Femininity, it's not just for the wimmins

Katie has an interesting proposition over at her blog:

What if every Friday, one among all the “But I LIKE lipstick!” feminists in the blogosphere rounded up all the arguments she’s had to come up with to defend WHY she likes lipstick? What if she channeled it into a dead-serious ad for why men would like it too, if they’d give it a try.

Other feminists would then cross-post and quote her post.

Seriously, what do you think about making this a shared blogosphere project?

Lipstick one week, humanities majors the next, shopping the next (tell Walmart-mom-raised men the really awesome learning experiences they missed out on while they were at the lake!), etc.

We probably won’t sell any male readers, but if we collaboratively work at this every week for a year or two, we’ll get good at it.

Then we’ll have 52-104 well-developed and sensible arguments that male and female readers can take to real-life discussions in their locker rooms and homes.

She later clarifies the goal of this project:

The aim is genuinely encouraging men to embrace traditionally feminine qualities and so challenge the accepted ideas of gender, the ultimate aim being to get rid of gender steretypes altogether. (i.e. anyone can wear skirts, anyone can be super strong, anyone can wear lipstick no matter what their sex.)

Feminist SF Carnival: 4th Edition

Welcome to the Fourth Edition of the Carnival of Feminist Science Fiction and Fantasy Fans! We’ve got quite a collection here this time, a whole host of topics organized by medium: Comic Books and Novels, Film and Television, and (my favourite) Video Games!

Comic Books and Novels

Feminist Superheroes
Transexual Fury: Summer Camp Special!

Starting this edition off with a bang are two posts talking about comic books in general. First, reappropriate‘s Jenn entertains us with her post, Meme: the Comic Book version.

Peachblossom of A Libertine‘s post, Feminist Superhero Books, talks about how the issue of feminism in comic books was tackled in the book, Wonder Women: Feminisms and Superheroes, by Lillian s. Robinson.

This one is a bit old, but it’s too good to leave unremarked on. Elkins of Notes from the Tundra examines the very real problem of girl on girl hostility in fandom and the world at large with her post Paranoia in Online Fandom: CMC, Girls’ Aggression, and Overanalyzing the Texts.

My assumption about this paranoia and the behavior that it engenders always used to be that it was simply a side-effect of the nature of CMC itself. The other week, however, while I was at the beach, I read a book someone had recommended to me on the subject of girls’ particular modes of aggression–Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls, by Rachel Simmons–and it was really shocking to me just how well many of the things that this book described were things that I strongly associate with online fandom dynamics. That in turn has made me wonder to what extent much of the “paranoiac” behavior that I’ve been seeing in on-line fandom might be an artifact not only of CMC, but also of the predominantly female demographics of the fandom circles in which I’ve travelled.

Ampersand of Alas, a Blog connects this phenomenon to the feminist blogsphere at large in his post, How Girls Express Aggression and Online Fandom Dynamics.

In another instance of relating comics and feminism (this time with a superhero twist), this one Charlie Anders of othermag comments on a talented artist who is using comics as a medium to explore the anti-trans policy of Michfest, a popular women’s festival. The post, Superheroines team up to fight the real enemy, is worth a read, but don’t forget to check out the comic itself as well. It should be noted, however, that since the publishing of the comic, the festival that is alluded to has changed its policy and is now inclusive of all women.

Can I be like you when I grow up?Moving away from independent comics and into the world of The Big Two, Kalinara of Pretty, Fizzy Paradise says that she can’t find it in her heart to hate someone who brought such a touching moment of female solidarity in Darn You Geoff Johns.

In the wake of both the wedding between the X-Men’s Storm and Black Panther, as well as the Black Panel at Comic Con, it’s no surprise that bloggers are still talking about issues surrounding gender and race in comics. Starting us off is Ragnell of Written World and her post, It’s still bothering me…, where she writes about her disappointment in the way that the more popular Storm has taken a back seat to Black Panther. She continues her analysis of this issue over at Newsarama by discussing the implications of the cover art in her post, Amateur Art Appreciation: The Groom

Tackling the issue head on in her livejournal, I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue, spiralsheep discusses sexism towards black women in comics in her post, In which our heroine asks, “What would T’Challa do?” , she has this to say:

But when a writer takes an achievement, a genuine victory, away from one character and gives it to another then there’d better be a good reason, when a writer takes away a female character’s self-determination and gives it to the men around her there’d better be a good reason, and when a writer turns a black victim of white crime into a black perpetrator of crime against a white person then there’d better be a !%@%! good reason.

The eponymous blogger Tlönista has written, Rebels from the waist down, a post on the portrayal of women in her favourite dystopian novels:

It gets scary-depressing when you read the feminist blogs and take in a piece on Joe Francis one day and teen virginity pledges the next and realize that the pressures on women in 1984 and Brave New World still exist simultaneously here, so that resisting one is giving into the other.

And what better way to end a section on comic books than with everybody’s favourite hero? Yes, that’s right, Planet Karen has a very special strip about Mars.

Film and Television

Fembots and the men who love them
Fembots (and the men who love them)

Over at Real Men Are Not, Luke dissects an essay on “Fembots” in his post, We’ll Pick You Up: Fembots and the Idiot at Enterprise [eta – broken link removed].

I don’t care if you say that fembots are some male-created extension in science of an already patriarchal culture but don’t tell me that that’s really the “perfect male fantasy”? Talk about something original and actually news-worthy.

Superwomen, not Fembots, are the subject of Ide Cyan’s post over at Feminist SF – The Blog!. In My Super Ex-Girlfriend [Caution! Spoilers in link.] she explores the movie of the same name from a feminist perspective.

The use of oversensitivity to sexual harrassment in the workplace as a running joke is particularly odious and tiresome. In the mouth of the protagonist’s Black, female boss, it adds to the caricature of women in positions of power as unreasonable and unjust towards the poor hapless (White) males.

Earthsea?And We Shall March laments yet another bastardization of Leguin’s Earthsea series in the post, And Then Ghibli Screwed Earthsea.

What sci-fi carnival would be complete without some Trekkie-loving? First we a post on the original series of Star Trek: heavenscalyx of The Calyx of the Heavens touches on (among other things) the treatment of Marla McGiver in, Khaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan! But TOS isn’t the only of the Star Trek series deserving of attention! On the Hathor Legacy, a blog devoted to the portrayal of women in the media, Revena discusses the fluid gender expression of the character in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – Jadzia’s Gender.

Kirylin of Kirylin’s Voice muses on Traits of a strong female character, looking at shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer in contrast with shows of her youth, like G. I. Joe:

Thinking about Elisa; Gloria and Vanessa; Lady Jaye, Scarlett, and Cover Girl; R.C.; Tea and Alexisa… it makes me wonder what defines a “strong” female character.

And to wrap things up with this section, another post from Charlie Anders at othermag: So much for the feminist take on Doctor Who [Caution! Spoilers in link.], which discusses the relationship between the Doctor and his companion.

Video Games

Beyond Good and Evil
Feminist Video Games: Beyond Good and Evil?

Jeff of our very own Shrub.com kicks off this section by questioning why “feminist video games” didn’t pull up any matches in his post, Feminist Video Games?

Of course, there’s the larger question of what would make a game good from a feminist perspective. In addition to being good from a gameplay perspective, I’d say such a game would include female characters who are full agents in the game world, and who are treated as subjects rather than objects. I think a variation of the Mo Movie Measure applies as well, in that female characters should interact with other female characters in ways that aren’t centered around men.

And, speaking of feminism and games, you know it’s going to spark some controversy when Sony announces that it’s going to release a pink console. Ariel of New Game Plus discusses the politics of pink PS2s and PSPs in her post, Feminists and Pink Game Consoles.

In a more personal expression of feminism and video games, Brinstar of Acid for Blood asks her readers to help her live like a pro-gamer for a weekend in Send Me to Stockholm.

So why do I want to go to Stockholm to learn how to play FPS games with a professional Quake 4 clan? Because it sounds fun. I’d totally blog about it, too. And there would be pictures.

In a less personal post, Brinstar looks at the gender differences in the survivors of a new video game in her post, No Weapons for Women in Dead Rising. While all of the men players have encountered thus far will take a weapon to defend themselves, most women are offered a hand and ushered off to safety. Although I doubt anywhere is truly “safe” when zombies are involved.

And on an unrelated subject, in response to an e-mail I received, I call for readers’ opinions on the where they think the responsibilities of privileged groups lie when choosing avatars in roleplaying games. My post, Race and Video Game Avatars, is on Official Shrub.com Blog and is reproduced over at Alas, A blog, so be sure to check out the discussion at both sites.

Final Words

This concludes the Fourth Edition of the Carnival of Feminist Science Fiction and Fantasy Fans. Ragnell is hurting for hosts, so please e-mail her here and volunteer!

Feminist SF Carnival: Call for Subs

The 3rd edition of the Carnival of Feminist Science Fiction and Fantasy Fans is up at New Game Plus. There’s a broad scope of issues from television to video games, and I would highly recommend checking it out.

On that subject, I’ve been suckered into volunteered to be the host for the fourth edition, to be put up on August 25. That means that it’ll be available both on OS.CB and Alas. The suggested writing theme is feminist utopias and dystopias, but (as always) you’re free to write on anything that fits into the official guidelines:

  • All Weblog Postings on Science Fiction and Fantasy works in all media (books, comic books, television, film, roleplaying tabletop games and video games) written from a Feminist Perspective are eligible.
  • Fan fiction written from a Feminist Perspective is eligible.
  • Posts about fan fiction written from a Feminist Perspective are eligible.
  • Posts about conventions and fan gatherings of a Feminist nature are eligible.
  • Posts about conventions and fan gatherings written from a Feminist Perspective are eligible.
  • Posts about any science fiction or fantasy fandom written from a Feminist Perspective are eligible.
  • Posts linking to newsand announcements are eligible, so long as they pertain specifically to the Feminist Sci-Fi Fantasy community.
  • Considerations about science fiction/fantasy news from a Feminist Perspective are eligible.
  • Analysis of non-Feminist works from a Feminist Perspective are eligible.
  • Rants about any of the above written from a Feminist Perspective are eligible.
  • Posts which spell “Space” using 3 A’s and two exclamation points and are written from a Feminist Perspective are eligible.
  • Posts about Green-Skinned Amazons (from Outer Spaaace!) with more than two breasts that are not written from a Feminist Perspective will not be eligible (and if they aren’t damned funny,* will be reproduced for mockery).
  • Posts about Getting Your Girlfriend into [specific type of fandom] had also better be damned funny. If written from a Feminist Perspective (even tongue-in-cheek), they will be eligible.

Submissions are due by Wednesday, August 23, and can be mailed to me here (please use the subject heading Feminist SF Carnival) or submitted it via the Blog Carnival form.

Call for Submissions: Carnival of Feminist Science Fiction and Fantasy Fans

I’ve posted the official call for submissions for the 3rd Carnival of Feminist Science Fiction and Fantasy Fans, which I’ll be hosting at New Game Plus. Have a post on feminism, video games, fandom, genre fiction, movies, television, comics, novels, fanfiction, or something of those sorts? Submit! Don’t make me crack the whip.

On The Feminist Carnival, Privilege, and Objectivity

Reading blac[k]ademic, as I am known to do, I came across this excellent post by nubian, did i hurt your feelings?, on (white) feminism and (not) respecting minority spaces. First of all, I’m telling you all to put my post on hold and go read it. Now, not later.

Have you read nubian’s post yet? Yes? Good.

So, aside from thinking that I want to include it in my How to be a Real Nice Guy post, I was struck by this line:

the really upsetting part about this, is that the posting by nio was linked in the (white) carnival of feminists

“White carnival of feminsts??” I cried. Then my mind started inventing all these reasons why Niobium’s post would have been included in the carnival. The one I settled on was that the Feminist Carnival has a duty to be objective. It should include all of the feminisms, even the ones that contradict each other.

But… is that true? Is that true objectivity, and even if it is, is objectivity really useful in a carnival by feminists, for feminists?

I. My Privilege is Showing

I will admit it to the world right now: reading nubian’s blog makes me uncomfortable. I have raged in private about how wrong I think she is on this or that topic. Why have y’all never seen it? Simply put: because I was wrong. Because I knew I was wrong, even when I was saying how right I was. So, it came as no surprise when I saw her criticize the carnival for being primarily by and for white feminists that I jumped headlong into denial mode.

Mind you, I agreed with what nubian was saying in her post. That shit is “Minority Spaces 101”. It’s not even that I have so great an investment in the Feminist Carnival that I felt it could Do No Wrong (please, I criticize everything — including things I like). I was cheering her on through every criticism she made about white feminism, white culture, etc. And then, because I wasn’t expecting it, I got smacked in the face with her “(white) carnival of feminists” jab.

Without knowing how the carnival put Niobium’s post in context, or even having read her post, I had already made up my mind. Nubian was just wrong. Women of colour had hosted the carnival before, and they often got included… Because, you know, I — as a white feminist blogger who really hasn’t given the issue much thought before now — am a better judge about token minorities, exclusionary tactics, and the racial problems with the carnival than a person of colour. Right.

II. ‘Objectivity’ as a Privileged Stance

So, once I got off of one idiot thought train, I jumped right onto another. I started waxing poetically about how the Carnival had a duty to be objective and include all forms of feminism, even the ones that were at odds with each other. I wouldn’t want to be exluded if I wrote a post on sex positive feminism, so why should Niobium be excluded because of her form of feminism?

Of course, I was buying into the same broken logic that the The “What About the Mens?” Phallusy does — assuming that “objective” means giving inequal arguments equal weight. Furthermore, if we look at the carnival page, we’ll see that the two arguments were not presented the same; Niobium’s was given more focus.

Going with the latter point first, here is how nubian’s post was introduced:

Kactus at Super Babymama writes in Space about Women of Colour, their right to their own space without, in nubian’s words, having to “appease white guilt”, and how white feminists can find this hard, despite feeling that they shouldn’t.

Her post inspired two other bloggers to talk about the issue, but yet her link is what amounts to a mere footnote to Kactus’ post. Not only that, but they have been framed to focus once more on the majority: appeasing “white guilt” and how white feminists can find this hard despite their feelings to the contrary. Isn’t this exactly the kind of marginalization that feminists of colour have been blogging about since, like, forever? Why does the struggle of white people get all the press when the real topic — the colonization of people of colour’s spaces — get no mention? Seriously, this isn’t rocket science here.

To add insult to injury, Niobium not only gets her own explanation, but also an excerpt about her post. I shouldn’t have to tell you that having a quote draws more attention, and gives more weight, than not having a quote. First of all, the person reading the carnival has a sample of the linked person’s writing right there. If they like it, chances are they’ll like the post, so they’re more inclined to click on it than they would just a paraphrased link. Secondly, quotes draw the eye because they are different than the rest of the text, separated from the endless summary/link dynamic. And, lastly, having a quote devotes more space to the argument, thus making the implicit connection that it’s more important.

As for the relative equality of the subject matter of the two posts… I really didn’t want to get into Niobium’s post because I know this is going to start a shitstorm, but I think I have to. Having read it, it starts off with the “can’t we all just get along” type argument, but then devolves into the “reverse racism” myth that stems from the privilege not to understand the difference between a minority space and an exclusionary space. The thing is, what Niobium’s post is challenging is the very ability for minority spaces to exist — and I believe that that is a fundamental concept to any oppression work, including feminism.

IV. Conclusion

Nubian’s original post on the issue was a perfect example of the way majority groups colonize minority spaces. She talks about well meaning white people derailing the conversation, minimizing the experience (and even the humanity) of people of colour, and basically hindering the important conversations about race relations today and in the past.

People, this is huge. No, it’s not novel. No, it’s not new. But this dynamic is fundamental to understanding privilege, and understanding privilege is fundamental to fighting oppression. In America, overt oppression has taken a back seat to a more subtle network of cultural traditions, ways of thinking, and allowed ignorance that those who do anti-oppression work have come to call privilege. This privilege exists in all of us, no matter how hard we fight against what it stands for. To deny this — as Niobium was doing with her “reverse racism” take on minority spaces — is to discredit the very foundations of what we, as feminists, stand for.

And that is why I don’t buy my original line of argument about “objectivity”. It is no more objective, in my mind, to give equal airtime to the rape of men than it is to give equal airtime to the argument that minority spaces aren’t needed. Both of these arguments ignore the fact that they don’t exist on an equal playing field — men are not raped nearly as much as women, and minority spaces exist because minorities do not get equal airtime in “default” spaces.

New Carnival: Feminist SF

Ragnell has just informed me that the only love her new carnival has gotten so far has been from me and the author/artist of Planet Karen. This will simply not do!

So, even though I haven’t plugged a carnival in way too long, I’m going to quote Ragnell’s announcement:

First, a word on the Carnival. The Carnival of Feminist Science Fiction and Fantasy Fans periodically collects posts from the hazy side-reality where feminist social consciousness meets the outer limits of the imagination. This is to draw attention to lesser known bloggers, to bring individuals of like-minded (or at least, understanding) interests together, and to foster the growth of feminist fan communities. It’ll be held here on July 2nd, deadline for submissions is June 29th, use the submission form or email me, details here.