New post at Better by Design

Just posting here to let everyone know that I’ve written a post about sexism in Stardock’s new game Elemental: War of Magic over at Better by Design: Stardock’s Elemental and what it says about the state of games

Here’s an excerpt:

The Unit Design chooses facial features (eyes, face shape, skin color, etc) randomly, but allows you to customize unit weapons, armor, equipment, clothing, and hair… but not sex. Yes, you heard me: the Unit Design function does not enable you to choose the sex of your units. At least not by default. It turns out that only races who choose the Egalitarian bonus (at the cost of one point) are able to have both male and female units. The campaign faction is not egalitarian; in fact, only the Kingdom of Tarth is. So, breaking down the makeup of the default factions: only 1 out of 10 of the factions (10% of the total factions) allows for the creation of female units, while 90% (9 factions) force male unit creation, and 0% (0 factions) force female unit creation.

Highlighting the responsibility of online community leaders

I know I haven’t been around much; my life is busy and I don’t have the time to blog that I used to. Unfortunately, this probably isn’t going to change anytime soon.

Anyway, I’d just like to highlight a post I read today, The Importance of Leadership on Gaming Websites.


The point of all of this is that, despite claims by games bloggers that they have no control over what random people say on the internet, they actually do have a lot of control over the community on their sites, without even getting into moderation: it’s all about tone.

Tone is why Destructoid and Kotaku are sexist cesspools. When you post sexist headlines like “Jade Smells Pretty at London Games Fest“, when you post pictures of booth babes that are completely irrelevant to your post, when you think the height of humor is using the word “pussy” as many times as possible, you are not only engaging in sexist behavior, you are inviting sexist people to your site and making them feel at home, while simultaneously turning away most women and non-sexist men. It is truly the editors that build their site’s communities.

Joystiq generally does not do the above things, so things are marginally more civil there. However, any time a relevant picture of a woman accompanies a post, there are always a slew of sexist comments that go unchecked. I saw this happen to two posts that went up within hours of each other; the first was about a new executive at EA, who is an older woman, and many of the comments were extremely violent and objectifying (one charming example: “I’d hit it… with a crowbar”). The other was about the Lara Croft model, and since she’s young and beautiful the comments were instead about how much they would like to fuck her. It’s true that the posts did not encourage this sort of behavior the way they might at Kotaku, but at the same time, allowing these comments to remain up does–silence is the same as agreement.

For those of you interested in issues such as video games, online communities, and/or moderation, I would highly recommend giving it a read.

How not to be "That Guy"

Synecdochic wrote a how-to post on privilege: Don’t Be That Guy.


This word gets thrown around a lot, and I think everyone uses it a little differently, which is one of the reasons why I have so much difficulty putting it into words. Let me try with: If you approach me with the presumption, stated or implied, that I owe you anything — my time, my attention, my energy, my conversation, my acquiescence to your desires — that’s entitlement. If you make me think that you think you can express a wish and I will fulfill that wish, that’s entitlement.

Women don’t owe you anything: not their bodies, not their time, not their emotion. Hell, not even their attention. (Nobody owes anybody anything except basic courtesy, respect, and trying not to be an asshole.) A lot of guys walk into a situation and give the impression that they have the right to take these things, through outright force or through a more subtle coercion. Giving someone that impression makes you That Guy.

New Gaming Site: The IRIS Network

The IRIS Network

If you’ve been wondering about my silence for the past couple of weeks, I have a deep, dark secret to confess: Along with Revena I’ve been building and launching The IRIS Network, a new gaming site focused on helping to give women in the community a bigger voice. Two weeks from zero to launch is a pain in the butt, I tell you, and the layouts for everything but the forum are slapped together from default templates. But it’s done, it’s launched, and the next person who bleats about there not being enough women in gaming who are “out” there will get hit over the head with this site repeatedly.

From the site news:

After yet another bout of the “where are all the women gamers?” on the internet gaming communities, The IRIS Network (TIN) was finally born. Though there are many individual women gamers who write about their experiences, and many sites for women who game to connect and play with each other, none of these sites are there for the express purpose of highlighting gamers (both in the industry and outside of it) and bringing women’s perspectives into the mainstream. Though it may be a lofty goal, that’s exactly what we here at The IRIS Network aim to do.

So, if you are a gamer, or just like games, and want to be part of it, go sign up for the forums. If you are a woman gamer who wants more exposure for her blog, go to the directory and check if your site is listed (if so, please flesh it out, if not please list it). If you’re a writer (female or male) and are interested in submitting works for our gaming magazine, please visit Cerise and check out our submission guidelines.

A community is only as good as its members, and so I look forward to forging a strong voice for gender-inclusive game design with you all.

Today's a day for link blogging

Q: What’s this all about?
A: Back in December, Rosie did a racist impression of the “Chinese” language. The following are some links from reappropriate which detail quite nicely this debacle. If you want more thorough coverage on the issue, I suggest you plug in rosie to reappropriate’s search engine, as Jenn has some good link roundups.

Some helpful links:
Rosie O’Donnell’s “ching chong” moment
Rosie O’Donnell’s Publicist Tells Asians to Get A Sense of Humour
Racism Abounds Following Rosie
Rosie O’Donnell Apologizes

Via Bonasi’s Realm….

Quote of the moment

From A couple of radical statements about sex, from the end of my rope.:

“But wait!” you may be thinking to yourself. “You’re on the record as having issues with objectification! Aren’t these sexy sex-having female characters exactly what you’re complaining about?”

And if you are thinking that to yourself, you missed the exit to the point about a hundred miles back.

Being a feminist, wanting to see better female representation in comics, and being uncomfortable with objectification is not the same as wanting to desexualize everything.

I like sex, I like sexy things. I’m human, with quirks and desires and all that other crap that comes with the territory. Not everything I like is going to be nice, or fluffy, or close your eyes and think of England. Sometimes, my mind’s downright filthy, and that’s just okie-dokie.

Via ariella drake

Theory Link for the Academically Inclined or Interested.

For those who may be interested in academic journals and and don’t already have access for other reasons, Sage Publications is currently offering some Free Trial Online Access, which includes free access during February to all online journal archives, and free access to selected other journals for longer periods (including their ‘Gender Studies’ collection). With journals like Men and Masculinities, Indian Journal of Gender Studies, Race and Class, and Games and Culture among a long list, I could be here for days. I’m so glad I cleaned out my hard drive recently.

Full List of Journals can be found here. Details of the Free Trial Access can be found here.

Beyond Pro-Choice: What about consent?

I have long held that no one — even those defined as “persons” by science and the law — has the right to use my body without my consent. Therefore, even if I did believe that personhood begins at conception (which science doesn’t support and neither do I) it still wouldn’t change my pro-choice stance. I do not believe it’s anyone’s decision but my own whether or not to put my health at risk for another being or potential being.

And I’m not alone. The Pro-Consent Coalition is a pro-choice organization that takes exactly this frame to the abortion debate. From their site:

Consent is very powerful. It is fundamental in deciding whether the rights to liberty and bodily integrity have been violated, and therefore need government protection. Even life-saving, beneficial surgeries cannot be performed without consent. By adding Consent to Choice, there would be public funding for termination of non-consensual pregnancies. Choice, based on the privacy promise in the Constitution, can never achieve that support.

Via feminist LJ.

New Blog: First Woman

Ragnell has created a new group blog: First Woman.

In her own words:

Saturday morning, Hillary Rodham Clinton officially announced her candidacy for President.


So, I’m finally starting a political blog, so I can follow the media coverage and the public reaction to Hillary Clinton’s campaign, and examine the sexist attitudes that surface during the Democratic primaries (and beyond, should she get the nomination). I’ll also probably blog about how people regard other women in American Politics.

If no sexist attitudes surface, this should be the last post of the blog.

More likely, though, there will be way too much sexism for one person or one blog to analyze.

If you want to help out with the blog, she’s requested that you get in touch with her. More details here.

Google and Racial Stereotypes

I’ve just been alerted to a post on Tricia Wang’s eponymous blog called Search Algorithms as Revealing of Social Stereotypes.

From the post:

I performed the original google image search just on “Asian women,” “American women,” and “Asian American women” for a presentation on stereotypes and identities of Asian American Youth. I want to demonstrate the pervasive stereotypes of Asian women – just how hyper-hyper sexualized they are. And it’s interesting to show that when you Google image search – there is no hierarchies of approval that the images have to go through like for traditional media (newspapers, TV shows and etc, where images usually become racialized in the approval process. SO for Google searches – it’s just based on algorithms on what users are clicking through and page ranking based on how many sites point to the webpage – which all determines the relevancy of the answers to the search query.

Via She’s Such a Geek!.