Am I the only one bothered by this?

This was supposed to be a rant on a recent NY Times article called To Appeal to Women, Too, Gadgets Go Beyond ‘Cute’ and ‘Pink’ (feel free to bingo it in my stead), but I got to reading a Gizmodo article called NY Times: Smaller, Easier to Use Gadgets Are Made for Women and was distinctly bothered by it.

I was heartened by the unabashed use of “sexist” to describe the NYT article, and the fairly good breakdown of why the stereotypes are insulting and wrong. But three things that showed up soured my reading of the article, to the point where it sticks as a negative in my memory rather than a positive. Three things in particular got me: the accompanying picture and two of the “jokes” that Matt Buchanan, the author of the article, cracked. Continue reading

"Geek Girl" Stereotype Bingo

Inspired by this post at Feminist Gamers and this post on The IRIS Network forums, I decided to take an old post of mine and turn it into a bingo scorecard.

Stereotype Bingo

Basically the rules are that when you see a media article, blog post, or anything else talking about women in relation to a geeky hobby (gaming, technology, science, etc) you pull out this scorecard and mark down which points the article touches on. If you get three in a row (diagonal counts), you win! If you get blackout, you win even more!

What do you win? Well, the satisfaction of knowing that you have made fun of yet another stupid article on women geeks. You can also link your scorecard (and any post that you made in relation to the bingo — using the scorecard isn’t mandatory, but I think it’s a cute visual) on this thread and, if you do a post, I might just highlight it here or on TIN’s forums.

Kotaku Wants Women Bloggers

Well, it’s official, Kotaku blogger Crecente has done his homework and decided that women just don’t blog about video games! This, of course, on the wake of Kotaku link blogging Guilded Lily’s post on covers she wants to see without giving any sort of nod to the meme that inspired it, or the other female video game bloggers who participated. Guilded Lily was not one of the women video game bloggers mentioned, by the way.

Of course, when Kotaku regularly inserts sexist turns of phrase into their posts, especially in ones that have little or nothing to do with gender, I am not exactly at a loss for an explanation as to why they would overlook resources like Women Gamers (the first hit when you google “women gamers”, just so you know) or Killer Betties. But, I mean, it’s us “gamer chicks” who have the “treat me better because I am a girl gamer attitude” according to one Kotaku commenter.

Let me put it another way. When bloggers like Faith, who put up with a lot of sexist shit being flung at them every time they post, say you’ve gone too far, your chances for getting a woman to blog for you, even if you find them with your severely lacking internet searching skills, is probably pretty low.

You want diversity at Kotaku? You want to add a woman to your staff? Then take down your damn “White Boys Only” sign and, at the very least, stop shoving your contempt for women down our throats in any post that even remotely can relate to women.

We are not your “whores”.

We are not your “bitches”.

And we are not going to sit down and kiss your feet for your half-assed attempts at including us.

This from a man who can't even use the word "woman" in his post

So, apparently, there is maybe, sort of, perhaps a possibility that Halo 3 will get a female voice for its multiplayer mode. I’m not a fan of Halo 3, so the decision doesn’t exactly affect me. Though back in the day when I had this mythical thing called “time” I was disappointed that the FPS games I played either had no female characters or inappropriately sexualized their female player characters, so it would be nice to see an FPS giving a nod to the women playing even if I’m not one of them.

However, despite assurances from Bungie’s website that the voice “won’t be comical, stereotypical or insulting – we’ll pick a great, strong female actress who can pull off bloodcurdling death cries and rattles,” (which, if true, would be great; the whole orgasmic death thing creeps me out) I have a hard time taking someone seriously who didn’t even bother to use the word “woman” when addressing and talking about the female gamers. Continue reading

Girls don't want pink games… they just want pink games

According to a BBC News article, Games industry is ‘failing women’, girls don’t want girly games about makeup, they want girly games about relationships and chatting. Or something.

The chief operating officer for EA’s worldwide studios, David Gardner, had this to say on the matter:

They don’t want ‘pink games’. Thy are not trying to play girly games where Paris Hilton and Britney Spears go shopping and put make-up on.


The Sims is really a game about relationships – and that’s what girls want – they want relationships, they want to be able to chat.

Really, I’m thrilled that the video game industry is finally realizing that it has a vast, untapped market. But, picking and choosing stereotypes instead of realizing that women and girls, like men and boys, are people with varied tastes and preferences really isn’t the way to do it.

I mean, am I the only one who sees the logical disconnect between saying that girls don’t like “girly” games, and then pulling out the relationships and chatting stereotypes as the reason why many women play The Sims?

Could it, perhaps, be that the afforementioned “girly” games are stupid and badly made, while The Sims has a solid background and has had lots of thought put into it? Or perhaps that The Sims affords you a chance to play God, not only by controlling your sims, but also by downloading and even creating new content. There’s even the possibility that it attracts women because it’s not specifically marketed against us — if any objectification goes on, it’s completely player generated, rather than company generated.

I can see people playing it because they like forming (and breaking) relationships. That has been one of the fun aspects for me, too (as is amassing wealth, turning my characters into vampires, having my sims have more sex than I do, downloading cool stuff, etc). That Gardner would bring up “chatting” as a reason more women play The Sims, though, tells me that not only does he not know his company’s product very well, but he’s relying on stereotypes rather than actual evidence. The Sims is a single player game, the “chatting” that goes on in it is that you can click on a sim, select “chat” and they’ll speak in Simolean. Which is not, by the way, a real language. I hardly see that as qualifying.

Marketing towards women based on stereotypes isn’t working, the “girly” games that are cited as failing are proof of that. So, please, video game companies, stop cribbing off of my Top “Geek Girl”-Friendly Rules! list and start viewing your potential female consumers as a vaired and diverse group of people — you know, how you view your male audeince (save the teenage group, who you seem to think are sex-crazed, misogynistic, annoying and stupid children; while we’re at it, stop that, too).

More "Girlfriend List" Idiocy

This time from It’s a month old, but it’s new to me (thanks, Ragnell). I have my “for ‘her'” category, but I’m really starting to feel like I need one specifically for “The Girlfriend List Idiocy” because this is just ridiculous. People rarely tell us “What Men Want” because it’s assumed to be too diverse in the vast majority of subjects, and yet over and over again these “What Women Want” lists crop up. You, out of my geekdom!

Anyway, here’s what I sent via their contact form:

Articles like these are precisely why I avoid your site. I am an avid geek – a gamer, comics fan, and into reading and writing about said geekery. I am exactly what your magazine/site targets, except for that inconvenient aspect of being female.

Women are not some collective Hive Vagina. You can no more recommend good books for us than you can for men — and the only “Books/Games/Whatever for Your Boyfriend” lists I have seen are parodies of the overabundant stereotyical “Girlfriend Lists”.

Listen, I’m sure the list was made and posted with the best intentions. But, please, from one geek to another: please stop. I’m not some mysterious creature to be tamed with your list of books. I — and every other woman, geek or no — am an individual. A human being.

When you publish lists like that, you erase our humanity by assuming that we’re all the same.

Ragnell, the evil sadist who sent me the link in the first place, has posted her reply here. It’s pithy and to the point, and if you want to laugh instead of cry/fume, go read it.

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.

The headings for the reasons “why men like it” and “why women like it” are identical: “Amazing HD Picture”, “Wider Viewing Angles”, “Broader Color Gamut”, and “Slim Design.” However, the ad copy below has some important differences. Under the first heading, the explanations for men and women read, respectively (emphasis added):

With its lightning-fast response time, the BRAVIA LCD TV displays an HD picture that never lags. That means no more ghosting around your favorite running back. Its new S-PVA panels divide pixels into more segments that have an incredibly fast 8-millisecond response time that increases its refresh rate, making your favorite car chases even more exciting. Plus, the picture automatically adjusts to ambient light conditions so you get the same quality any way you watch it.

The BRAVIA LCD TV automatically adjusts to ambient light conditions. So whether the lights have been dimmed to watch your favorite cable show with the girls or turned off completely while you trick your beloved into watching a beautiful love story, the BRAVIA LCD TV consistently gives you the amazing HD detail you desire.

The “Mars” and “Venus” programming choices are the most obvious examples; I’m guessing her favorite cable show isn’t Doctor Who or Battlestar Galactica here. (Actually, I think the last love story my girlfriend and I watched with the lights out was Re-Animator.) But the idea that women need/want to “trick” their (presumably male) beloveds into watching love stories is just plain insulting, as is the treatment of dramas (again, emphasis added):

So, the next time you escape the daily grind by sitting down to your favorite prime-time drama, even if what you’re watching doesn’t reflect real life, at least you know your television’s color will.

Silly women, watching dramas that don’t reflect real life. Not like men, who watch car chases.

The sexism in this ad goes beyond the gendering of programming, though. The “for men” copy actually tells you far more about the TV than the “for women” copy – we get specific data about the response time, while the copy “for women” doesn’t even mention response time or refresh rate. I don’t know if the writers were just lazy and couldn’t think of a gendered reason for women to want these features. After all, if “chick flicks” are just people talking and don’t have explosions or special effects, why would women care about refresh rates? And “8 milliseconds” sounds suspiciously like math.

In fact, a lot of the reasons “why women like it” have nothing to do with actually watching TV:

Why does the couch always have to be in the middle of the room? With the BRAVIA LCD TV it doesn’t have to be. Its 178° viewing angle gives you 178° of space to design. So rearrange the living room any way you want. You’ll still get an outstanding picture no matter where you sit.

It’s called the Living Room, not the TV Room. And the designers of the BRAVIA LCD TV haven’t forgotten that. With its slim design and stylish look, the BRAVIA LCD TV only steals your eye when it’s on. If only the same could be said for his football lamp.

Yep, that’s right. Sony expects women to plunk down several thousand dollars for a high-end HDTV in order to not watch it.

I hear the lines at Best Buy and Circuit City are around the block.

How To Transform Yourself Into a Misogynistic Asshole

Girls, we need to have a talk. Is this a familiar scenario for you? You come home from a long day of work or school and are looking forward to relaxing on the couch to play a few hours of your favorite game. Within seconds, your husband/boyfriend/father/brother swoops in and starts harping in your ear, “Games are for boys, BITCH!” Tired of hearing the same crap in your ear every day? Want to play your games in peace? Better yet, do you dream of sharing your love without getting sexually harassed, talked down, or called male? Well, you came to the right place.

Straight from the mouth of a gamer who happens to be female, I will… well, I certainly won’t be making a stupid, sexist list that derides women as naggers and then tells you how to get them to play games. But I sure as hell will be critiquing one from a writer whose creds is that she’s a “female gamer” — but apparently that doesn’t exempt her from spouting a load of sexist crap.

  1. Never Forget That All Women Nag!
  2. Within seconds, your wife/girlfriend swoops in and starts harping in your ear, “I’m not going to spend another night watching you play that stupid game for hours…blah, blah, bitch, bitch, BITCH!” Tired of hearing the same crap in your ear every day?

    The author (sorry, her handle is too l33t for my poor female brain to type) opens up by playing unironically on the stereotype that women will nag and “bitch”. I find it telling that the one word in the entire paragraph that draws your attention is the only one she put in all caps: bitch.

    Women, please take note: While you may feel like “one of the boys,” and indeed they may tell you that you are, emulating them by putting down other women will not make you any less of an interloper. All it does is make you an asshole who alienates herself from both groups.

  3. Women Love Shopping, Tee Hee!
  4. Play your games after she goes to bed or when she is out shopping, or offer her a deal (i.e.-if she lets you play for an hour, promise to watch her favorite chick TV show for an hour.) You can suck it up for the sake of gaming. Once she sees that SHE is your priority, she should be willing to compromise a little.

    Just in case the hypothetical girlfriend was starting to look too much like an individual human being with all that talk about not playing games when you’re supposed to be spending time with her, our author had to throw in this line about shopping. Because shopping to women is like gaming to men! And, furthermore, that any TV shows that one gender likes the other will automatically hate. Because men and women are different!

    I also like how she’s like, “your girlfriend should be your priority” and then emphasises that it’s all a show to get her to compromise. Because loving relationships between women and men, especially gamer men — or any geeky men or any men with a hobby, really — can’t exist. Women are out to nag — excuse me, bitch, because that’s what we are, bitches and not people — and men are only interested in keeping their women for… the sex, I assume. Because the men she’s painting in this picture sure don’t seem to have girlfriends because they like them.

  5. Women Feel Important When They’re Stereotyped!
  6. You know girls, they are ALL about feelings… Point out your favorite character (unless of course, your favorite player is a D-Cup bimbo!) If you’re stuck on a board and can’t figure out where to go next, ask her to help you figure it out. Let her know that she is important enough to you that you want to share your gaming passion with her.

    But not, apparently, enough to see her as an individual rather than some sorry caricature of that “bimbo” (the woman-hating words come out again!) player this hypotheical guy may love. So far these non-gaming SOs have been painted as nagging bitches, shopaholics who watch “chick shows” whatever those are, “all about feelings” (because logic is for men!), and really not worth any time except that their nagging between sexual exploits gets in the way of what’s really important: game time.
  7. Electronics are Scary!
  8. For non-gaming chicks, the modern console and controller can be damn intimidating. Don’t hand her a controller and expect her to know what to do with it. If she handed you a makeup bag and a set of hot rollers, would you have any idea what to do with them? Make sure you teach her. Walk her through the controls. Explain things clearly, but don’t talk down to her.

    Intimidating? Comparing it to makeup? This author clearly has never had the benefit of reading any of the how not to write these types of articles guides. Personally, I’d say don’t write them at all. If men are ignoring their SOs because of the sake of games, it’s not because of makeup or intimidating controllers and everything about the sense of entitlement these guys have.

    Wake up call, people! It’s not the women who are the problem in this scenario, it’s the men! No person wants to be treated as an object for their partner’s amusement in a relationship. The men being described here — and I know they exist, because I have had the unfortunate occassions to hang out with some such losers — don’t respect women, don’t treat their girlfriends right, and then wonder why they get dumped. Telling them that their problems will be fixed by getting their nagging bitches of girlfriends into gaming solves nothing. It just lets them believe the fantasy that they don’t have to actually treat the women in their lives like they care about them, and in that scenario everyone loses.

  9. Chick Means Stupid!
  10. The key to turning a regular chick into a gamer chick is taking it slow and playing games that she is interested in and that are at her skill level. If your girl has never played before, or is slow to pick it up, throwing her head first into a first person shooter or 40 hour RPG is not the way to go. The trick is easing her into it with “chick friendly” games. Once she masters the “chick” games, then let her determine when she is ready to move on to more challenging games. She will progress at her own pace. Don’t push her too fast or she will only get frustrated with her skill (or lack thereof.) I know this may be boring as hell for you at times, but believe me, it will all be worth it. Here is a list of games that are great intros for her:

    Number of times the word “chick” was used in that paragraph: 4 And at least two of those was synonymous with stupid or non-complex. The games she suggests? Mario, music games, and puzzle games. Because, obviously, they’re “chick” games because they’re easy. Unlike first person shooters. Which are completely complex and require a lot of brain power.

    And I challenge her to a DDR match if she believes that it requires “less actual gaming skills.” What are gaming skills? Reflexes, ability to adapt to the new challenges of the game, and the ability to become skilled in the gaming environment. All of which DDR has, plus the added element of physical power. You need stamina to keep that shit up. I have played a wide variety of games in my 15+ years of gaming, and DDR remains one of the most challenging games.

The snobbery of the “boy’s club” is so apparent here, and what’s more sad is that it’s coming from a woman herself. Instead of challenging ideas of “hardcore game” = good versus “casual game” = bad, or challenging men to treat these women as individual people, the author has chosen to throw her lot in with deriding women with negative stereotypes, multiple uses of slurs, and insults to our intelligence. Yes, I may be a hardcore gamer, but that doesn’t mean I’m one of the boys. Frankly, when “the boys” behave like women are only around for their entertainment, I’d much rather be unpopular by calling them to task by it, than agreeing with them only to gain a bunch of friends who will never accept me because of my gender.

What kind of "Gamer Girl" I'm NOT

Which Type of Gamer Girl are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Apparently supposed to be me.
Sports Gamer.
Football, basketball, baseball… No matter what the sport, you’ll dominate when you bring your best game.

Leave it to someone who thinks it’s appropriate to represent “kinds” of female gamers with large-breasted and scantily clad avatars (“girl power”, anyone?) to create a quiz that would tell me I’m a sports gamer. Not just a sports gamer, though, but one who walks around in a cutoff longsleeved tee and panties! Hut-hut, indeed.

Via New Game Plus.

No, sir, that's not made for me

Over at New Game Plus, Lake Desire shares her feelings on the disconnect between what she, a woman, wants in a game and what male players think she wants:

Final Fantasy X-2 wasn’t my first disappointment in the series (particularly my first time in Spira), but it was the first time that I felt this game is for someone other than me. I didn’t even have a chance to get excited about a role-playing game with an all female party; I remembered just how “strong” a character Yuna was from the last game. When the screenshots and production art made the forums, and I saw pictures like this (a declaration of the game’s intended audience), I thought they were a joke. A Final Fantasy game about collecting outfits? Although many thought the upcoming game looked cheap and insulting, others seemed to be missing the point. I recall reading articles and forum posts written by male gamers who were excited that more games like FFX-2 and Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball were coming out with things women like, shopping and clothes, so girls can have fun gaming, too. Like they thought the game was for women.

[From Alienating Audiences by Lake Desire]

It’s a whole lot easier to think that having a female character, or dressing up feminine stereotypes in new, more sexist ways are appealing to women than actually taking the time to, you know, think of your female audience as people who would like to be represented equally. Women make up almost half of the gaming audience and yet, despite our growing outrage, we still have to put up with games that objectify and demean us, and people who just don’t get it.