Cannes-ntcha Wear Those Heels, Lady?

Apparently Cannes isn’t even trying to hide their sexism. If you’re a woman and you’re not in heels, you aren’t going to go to any red carpet screenings–even if you have medical issues that prevent you from wearing those atrocities.

I can’t wear heels without pain. I’ve had injuries that make wearing them hell, and it upsets me greatly that I still feel required to wear them for job interview and such, no matter the pain–because I have to look “professional” (as in, if you apply for our job and you aren’t experiencing pain duirng the interview, you don’t want it bad enough). Ophelia Benson likens wearing them to a mild form of foot bindind, and I can’t say I disagree, considerig how they make me feel.

So, what items of clothing are they going to decide men have to wear? Or are they only going to target the ladies because screw them?

Footwear is not only a fashion statement, it can be a medical necessity. I have a co-worker who needs to wear prescribed tennis shoes due to arthritic knees. Our place of work harrasses him constantly because he “doesn’t meet the dress code”, despite the fact he can’t afford the dress shoe prescription (couple hundred vs thousands of dollars). He doesn’t meet standards, prescription be damned. And that’s what Cannes said to older women in the same predicament. Our requirements are set in stone and there is no way you, with your prescription shoes, are going to be allowed to thwart them. If you aren’t sobbing in pain by the time you sit down, we aren’t doing our job right.

Sounds like Cannes is just as awful as the movies they show.

If #NotAllGamers Is Your Defense, You’ve Already Lost

I delved into Intel’s withdrawal from Gamasutra this weekend, seeing if public outcry has changed their minds about supporting misogyny and hatred over a woman’s right to be part of the gaming community.

No shock–they prefer the misogyny and hatred over the right of women to work in the video game industry.

During my reading I came across an article on Forbes.com by Erik Kain titled “Why It Makes Sense For Intel To Pull Ads From Gamasutra Over #GamerGate And Why It’s Still The Wrong Move”. There was very little said about the “wrong move” other than Intel is right to listen to their customers and quite a bit about how not all gamers are misogynistic thugs sending rape and death threats to women in the business, trying to drive them out. When your main defense of the attempted destruction of Zoe Quinn’s career and life is “Not all gamers do it” you’ve already lost the battle. That’s the same defense that #NotAllMen use, and instead of focusing on issues of misogyny, hate, bigotry, harassment and the like, it sweeps them under the rug so the “but I’ve never done that!” men never have to think about the problems, never have to try and help solve them, and in the end, ignore them because they’ve never done anything like that and the abuse doesn’t happen to them, anyway, so it can’t be a problem.

Kain is angry that Leigh Alexander had the gall to stereotype all gamers into asshole misogynists who send rape and death threats to women. “Nerds” have been fighting those anti-social stereotypes for ages. They are not the secluded basement-dwellers of myth because nowadays gaming is ubiquitous. No, no, gamers are normal people. You see, #Gamergate is really about how people buy good reviews for their video games and how underhanded that is. Sparking controversy by lighting the fuse to a bomb centered on “Entitled Gamers” is just stupid. In the end, it’s Alexander’s fault that Intel pulled their ads from Gamasutra, because her focusing on misogyny, hate, bigotry, harassment misses the point of why #GamerGate was established, and gamers have every right to insist Intel succumb to their “I have a right to send death threats to whomever I want and if you don’t agree, I’ll never buy another one of your products again” demands.

Kain’s article is a “No really, it’s not us gamers who are assholes, it’s the women who are at fault” article. When I read it to my husband, the first words out of his mouth were, “Is he really that clueless?”

Yeah. He is.

Gamers under the #Gamergate hashtag claim they want to solve the problem of game developers buying good reviews. That’s really what the Zoe Quinn thing is all about. No, really. It isn’t about the hundred-page screed her ex wrote to trash her because she broke up with him, and it isn’t about him sending hordes of men after her to shame, threaten and harass not only her, but her family and friends, because they broke up because hey, she slept with a game reviewer who didn’t even review her game Depression Quest but she still slept with him and that is absolutely inexcusable, though we don’t really say much about huge corporations buying reviews because they make COD and GTA and those are games gaters like!!!

And gaters will just ignore the male reviewer she slept with. He’s not that important, even though he’s supposed to be part of the problem. They won’t demand he lose his job. And why not?

So I have a question. If these gaters truly wanted to solve the problem, why attack Gamasutra? It’s known for doing everything #Gamergate people claim they want–fair, good reviews. Oh, wait, that’s right. They really don’t give a shit about fair game reviews–they just want to punish a website who had the audacity to publish an article critical of the gamer culture that led to Quinn’s absolutely horrible experience.

Let me remind you, Mr. Kain, that Intel would not have pulled their ads from Gamasutra if just a couple hundred people complained. No. They had to be inundated with complaints from gamer after gamer, people that you claim don’t really exist. Sure, there’s a few bad apples, but that doesn’t spoil the gaming barrel, right?

Yes, it does.

You see, the message Intel has sent me, and so many others, is that men who believe that women don’t belong in games, creating games, or playing games are in the right and the people who would love to see more diversity in character, story and gameplay aren’t important enough to their bottom line to care about. They prefer to support rape and death threats over articles trying to have a conversation about those horrible things, because silencing critics is an easy way to ignore the problems. They think what happened to Zoe Quinn is justice.

That’s one spoiled gaming barrel. What’s going to happen is that other websites are going to take note and silence their writers so they, too, don’t lose income. Problem solved through threats, which gaters are so good at.

I’m not so willfully blind.

I Will Never Stand Down, Christina Hoff Sommers. Never.

Dear Christina Hoff Sommers,

I will not stand down.  I will not be quiet. I will not sit down and shut up, as you seem to think all good little girls should. I will speak my experience, and frankly, that experience with video games does include a great deal of sexism, racism and violence in gameplay.  It does not mean I hate those video games, on the contrary, I enjoy playing quite a few of them, but I believe game creators can do lots better when it comes to content.

Our beloved “hipster” reviewer (and I do wonder if you realize exactly what hipster means), Anita Sarkeesian, has played so so many video games, and not just the CoD and GTA series that you mention. She had pointed out that depicting gendered violence over and over and over again makes it seem normal, expected. It reinforces attitudes that women are disposable sex objects and nothing more, that it’s ok to beat and rape them because everyone else is doing it, and even if they aren’t, they approve.

Boys will be boys is a terrible idea to uphold. It leads to so many horrible things in our society, like harassment, rape, domestic violence, racism, and more. It gives males a free pass to do whatever they like to whomever they wish, and expect no punishment in return, while those who suffer at their hands must endure shame, violence, and worse with no recourse.

Oh, BTW, just stating that video games aren’t sexist, rather than proving it, does not answer the question that titles your video. You should know better, having been a philosophy professor, but the sloppiness, and the ad hominim attacks, etc., are pretty typical for an American Enteprise Institute hack. I would have thought Brandeis would teach their students better than this, but when there’s a ton of money and influence to be made by shitty logic, I suppose that’s too great a pull.

Lucky for us Jonathan Mann has an excellent rebuttal.

Schooled in Math

Reading about Fields Medalist Maryam Mirzakhani’s early schooling, when a teacher told her she was not good at math, struck a nerve. I, too, was told that by a teacher who refused to waste his time in helping me understand concepts in algebra because I was a girl, and wouldn’t understand it anyway. The next year in school, Mirzakhani’s teacher told her she was great at math, which was a step towards earning a math degree. For me, during my second high school year, I took geometry. The teacher graciously told me I should have failed, but out of the goodness of his heart, he would give me a C so I wouldn’t have to repeat the class. The school councilor told me that I had a block against math, and advised me to focus on the humanities—a perfectly good girl’s area of study. I dreamed of being an archaeologist, but when I entered college and was told I needed Calc 3 to get a degree, I immediately dropped my dream because I knew I could never accomplish it. No amount of hard work would ever overcome a mind-block, right?

My freshman orientation advisor, a geo-engineer, was absolutely flabbergasted when I told him this. He told me women are just as good at math as men, and urged me to overcome my misgivings and attempt math again. I wish I had taken his advice—but at the time, I did not believe it. The “proof” lay in the classes and concepts I failed. His was one voice against many. It is only years later that I realize he was correct. I wish I could tell him that. You were right. I wish I had been strong enough to follow your lead.

When you’re young, teachers make impressions—sometimes very negative ones. I knew at the time that the men who taught me math thought women were the lesser gender due to their religion, but I still believed what they told me because they, as authority figures, were supposed to know what they talked about. It was not until years later that I realized these men had no clue how to teach math, and really, did not understand it themselves—they were football and basketball coaches. Math happened to be the subject assigned to them so they could remain coaches at the high school. They had not studied it, and that lead to terribly teaching it. They made excuses as to why they could not help their students, and it was because they did not understand the material themselves. This also explains why very little teaching took place in those classrooms, and why we were given worksheets and assignments to fill up class time rather than listening to lectures (and no, they were not participating in Moore-style education).

I now understand how ridiculous my beliefs were. Not only am I married to a mathematician who has helped relieve me of my past notions, I took math courses in college—not Calc 3, but I still had to take them—and I aced them. I got As. I wish that those successes had persuaded me much sooner to re-examine my dreams and go from there, but since I longed to be a fantasy/sci-fi author, English did not seem that terrible of a degree focus. I ended up in a library–a perfect example of the “good woman’s” job that, in many ways, haunts me. I write quite a lot (no fiction publications as of yet), but I wish I had followed my other dream as well.

The Sorry State of Women

After reading this post by Brianna Wu, I was struck by Case Study #1 Nina, in which a male coworker said that he had a different reaction when he heard criticism from women as opposed to men. He became more defensive more quickly when he heard it from women. I mulled this over while scrolling through posts on Facebook, and a friend posted a Pantene commercial that she, and several others, thought was as empowering as the Dove Real Beauty Sketches of a few years ago.  The Pantene commercial begins with a simple question:  Why are women always apologizing?

The commercial shows several senarios where women apologize before they make a statemet or ask for something. Then it says, “Don’t be sorry.” The same women in the same senarios make their statements without apologizing first. It’s a great message. It’s empowering. It appeals to those who strive to be strong women.

And it’s completely unrealistic.

Why do women apologize anyway?

It’s pretty simple. It protects them.

If a male (and sometimes female) co-worker has problems hearing any suggestions or criticisms from a woman, apologizing first softens the words. It makes the meat of the comment more acceptible. It’s never fun to be mocked by coworkers or your boss because they see your words as a threat and try to ameliorate them by calling you a bitch, uptight, unwomanly, too pushy, too forceful. Sorry makes comments digestible by those who get defensive when a woman speaks. It sucks, but that’s the way it is.

Being perceived as a strong woman is not an asset. Strong women are ridiculed, ignored, deplored. Men see them as a threat, and do their best to silence them by using the previously stated ways. When men see women as less, any evidence they could be equal is frightening, and not tolerated. I see this at work all the time. The manager laughs at women’s suggestions in front of their coworkers, even if the idea is one that he eventually uses after a man suggests it. He will call a female supervisor into his office because he is concerned about the tone she used to point out that a male employee is not doing his work,  but ignores the tone used by the male employee when he told the female supervisor to shut up and stop yelling at him, even though she had actually calmly pointed out he had not done his assigned work. The manager may not realize the favoritism, but his employees have. It’s the reason the female employees rarely bring up things that male employees do wrong, like stealing. There’s no point, since they are more likely to get in trouble with the boss for being a rat rather than the perpetrator getting in trouble for doing something wrong. It’s the reason the men do what they want, even if it hurts the workplace and morale, and the women keep silent.

“I’m sorry” will never fix workplace inequality, but it is something women have realized allows them a voice when dealing with men. A small voice,  but one nonetheless. It’s better than nothing.