Oh, My Pop Culture Religion: Monks in Geek Culture

monk mene funny

image via funnyjunk

Last year I wrote an article about nuns in geek culture. Nuns and religious sisters of all stripes have such great potential as iconic feminist characters, but writers spend more time casting them as evil sexy sirens in black and white costumes. But what about the nun’s male counterpart, the monk? Monks are men who take vows of virtue and live apart from society (usually in a community with other monks). They’re mainstays of both Western and Eastern religions. Monks challenge popular stereotypes of what real masculinity looks like. And yet monks face a problem similar to nuns: we can’t seem to break them out of a handful of inaccurate stereotypes.

Spoilers for Doctor Who and Avatar: The Last Airbender after the jump.

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Sexualized Saturdays: Starring People or About Them?

Gaming has some problems. We know this, and it’s been well documented. However, we can look even further into some of them. I’ve read theories and information painting the Metroid series as about motherhood in some capacity. While I have never played the games, this concept seems interesting to me. Motherhood is an experience that I’ll never be able to have, and experiencing new things is the reason many of us play games. I couldn’t possibly know what it’s like to be a mother, but having an experience at least analogous to that can help me be more empathetic to those who have. This got me to thinking: I play many games starring men, as this industry has a gender disparity, but I can’t recall seeing too many gaming experiences about being a man.

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Where Are All the Female Werewolves?

the wolf man 1941Werewolves have never really been the most popular monster; they’re usually second fiddle to vampires or zombies. I suppose there’s some sense to that. Vampires are sexy romantics and zombie hoards are harbingers of the apocalypse. Werewolves usually act alone, and, outside of Twilight and Teen Wolf, aren’t typically portrayed as having much sex appeal. In 1941, The Wolf Man became the first successful werewolf film. Our monster has a furry face, spreads his affliction through biting others, kills people, and is ultimately killed by his own silver walking stick. He’s monstrous, not sexy.  We can understand why vampires and zombies scare us, too. Vampires might represent a powerful person draining us of our own power for personal gain. Zombies drawn on our fear of pandemics and the ignorant masses destroying those of us just trying to survive. But what about werewolves? The most common answer I find is that werewolves speak to the changes a teenager experiences during puberty. Pisces already explored how this dynamic works in Teen Wolf. But if that’s the case, then where are all the female werewolves?

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Trigger Warning: Kate Argent

My favorite Teen Wolf actors are currently filming Season 4, and if rumors are to be believed, it’s less American Horror Story: Lycanthrope and back to normal ol’ campy-yet-awesome Teen Wolf. But here’s the thing: I’m not so sure that this season is going to be less traumatic now that Kate Argent is back.

wcgiqLdJeff Davis has said this will be a big season for Derek, and that he will be in trouble at the beginning of the season and the gang will have to rescue him. Big money is on Kate kidnapping Derek… again.

This does not sound like a light and fluffy season to me, but I’m really worried the writers will attempt to make it that way, and in the process royally screw up a really important issue.

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Sexualized Saturdays: Sexism Against Men and Male Stereotypes

When I get a break and can sit down and actually enjoy myself on Tumblr, I often find myself getting angry at many of the things that are posted and reblogged in my fandoms. There are many things that piss me off, but recently it’s been the extreme gender roles and sexism against certain male characters. That’s right—the feminist is going to talk about sexism against men.

3220614-batman-vs-superman-1-tptivirz0s-1024x768I have always believed that sexism affects men as much as women, but in very different ways. Men, just like women, are forced into gender roles and societal expectations that they don’t necessarily want. When teaching feminist theology to my college students, I tried to point out to the men (because I always felt no one else was) that they should be just as insulted by sexism and gender roles as the women. After classes, many of my male students approached me to say that they were angry about the gender roles men were placed into. They felt they had to always be tough—not necessarily physically strong, but that they always had to act macho and unaffected by everything. They felt threatened and uncomfortable by ideas that claimed men couldn’t be loving or nurturing as fathers; that they shouldn’t say anything about it if they felt (or were) sick. They felt pressured to avoid asking for help or working toward peaceful compromises, but rather, felt that they must always be the aggressive loner who does his own thing. These are all roles that greatly influence men’s lives today.

So what does this have to do with fandoms? Well, masculine gender roles often results in stereotyped male characters like Dean Winchester, Batman, Derek Hale, and Wolverine, whom fandoms love and think are awesome. Now, granted, many of the characters I just listed have a lot of depth. Dean, for example, really grows and develops as a character (at least in the first five seasons), so it’s not that I think these characters are necessarily negative stereotypes. What bothers me is how fandom reacts to other male characters that don’t fit the typical male stereotype.

teen-wolf-3x01-tattoo-scott-mccall1For this post I’m going to talk about the three male characters I see picked on the most by fans: Sam Winchester, Superman, and Scott McCall. I always said these three characters need to sit down and get a drink together because it really makes no sense that the fandom hates them as much as they seem to. Of course, none of this means that the entire fandom hates a certain character, but that enough people hate a character that the rest of the fandom starts to notice it and see it as a problem. (I really should point out that characters like Superman, Sam Winchester, and Scott McCall are also male stereotypes of a different sort, but that is a post for another time.) For now, let’s look at why these characters are so hated.

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Theatre Thursdays: A Man’s Gotta Do What a Man’s Gotta Do; or Masculinity and Dr. Horrible

Dr%20Horrible%20Captain%20PennyIn my last Theatre Thursday, I discussed Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, the problematic themes of stalking, and the general disenfranchisement of our female lead Penny’s character. At the end of that post, I briefly mentioned that perhaps the reason Penny’s character leaves something to be desired is because of how the musical discusses masculinity.

As much as Joss Whedon is considered by many to be a feminist, I often wonder if he plans some of the themes I see in his work, or if it happens by mistake. Whatever the case, this musical makes some strong statements about masculinity and what it means not only to be a man, but to be a man in relation to a woman.

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Oh, My Pop Culture Jesus: Jesus and the Twelfth Doctor

It’s that time again—when the Doctor Who fandom explodes with theories and arguments over who will be the next actor to play Doctor Who’s titular role. Many people, including our own Lady Saika, have called for an injection of diversity into the role. I tend to agree; I’ve thrown my hat into the Idris Elba fangirl ring. One of the more contentious issues in the fandom is whether or not to cast a woman for the role. BBC has stated that they aren’t ruling out the possibility of a female Doctor. Some argue that the show needs to cast a woman as proof that we’ve moved beyond sexist stereotypes, that the Doctor’s reference to the multi-gendered regenerations of the Corsair (another Time Lord, long dead) in “The Doctor’s Wife” is proof enough that Time Lords can regenerate into Time Ladies. Some argue that the question is moot, that it shouldn’t matter whether a man or woman is cast, it should go to the actor with the best audition. I’m going to argue that the Doctor should remain a man.

Wait! Don’t go! Most of the arguments for why the Doctor should remain a man are pretty weak, if not sexist. They usually boil down to “It’s always been that way!” or “The Doctor is a man!” or “Women are companions, why do they need to be the Doctor too?” But I think I’ve stumbled upon an argument for why the Doctor should retain his maleness, rooted in feminist theology.

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