With February ending, Black History Month is also coming to an end. But March brings us Women’s History Month! Like a broken record, I’ll say, representation matters. (The changing of these months, though, should remind us to keep intersectionality in mind as well.) This repeated mantra may feel a bit stale without a solution to the question: how can we get better representation in our games and media? One answer would be to diversify the creative forces. Today, I want to talk about some of the efforts to improve this deficiency.
Double standards are everywhere in geek cultures. Most of them are easy to spot in such things as clothing and armor options for genders. Such standards extend into character archetypes as well. A very well known trope that is often reserved specifically for women is the Damsel in Distress trope. We’re all familiar with this, but one character archetype that seems to skip women is the Jerk With A Heart of Gold.
I smoke tobacco pipes. I’ve enjoyed them since I turned 18 and even make them. So, I am pleased when I see television or movies including characters smoking their pipes. You’ll never know where pipe smokers are going to turn up in these things, from Colonel Hans Landa in Inglorious Basterds to Davy Jones in Pirates of the Caribbean. Even the First and Fourth Doctors in Doctor Who were seen smoking pipes. However, I’m almost always infuriated when I see how they smoke them. This is because many times the characters smoke their pipes wrong. Typically, these characters seem to be most interested in making as much smoke as possible. This isn’t wrong because of arbitrary etiquette, but rather is wrong because it ruins the taste of the tobacco, burns the mouth, and can ruin a pipe over time.
Looking back on my childhood, I can’t help but notice that there were some terrifying things in my seemingly innocent kids’ movies. And one of the most surprising and terrifying things is Satan showing up in my Disney movies!
And no, I don’t mean that Disney has some underlying satanic message or some evil satanic plot. Disney is a company founded in the Western world that for the most part has dealt with themes from Western culture, which includes Christianity. There are many instances of God showing up in Disney (but we’ll talk about those later). And of course, there are many instances where God seemingly passes judgement on villains in Disney movies and almost literally sucks them into hell.
Well, if there is a hell, there has to be a Satan, right? Disney has many devil’s bargains in their movies, such as in The Little Mermaid and The Princess and the Frog, and while it’s never really Disney characters selling their soul, the parallels are pretty clear. There are even instances where it seems that the devil or demons—something evil—is influencing the Disney villains. But there have been a couple times when the devil himself has literally shown up in Disney movies. This post was originally just going to be about instances of Satan in Disney movies, but then I started to notice something: when the devil does show, it’s always with women…
As a woman it is sometimes difficult to deal with all of the judgements you receive on a daily basis, especially when it comes to your sexuality. And geek culture isn’t always helpful when it comes to those issues. Woman must deal with being considered prudes if they aren’t sexually active, and if they are sexually active then they are considered “sluts.” Women are judged for their sexual activities or perceived sexual activities based on how they dress and act. These ideals that are forced on women are reinforced in attitudes that can be found in geek culture.
So, “Man’s Best Friend with Benefits”… Yeah, it wasn’t very good, was it? Worst of all, the internet is abuzz with comments about this particular episode being, well, racist. And is it racist? Well, let’s just say the whole thing could have been done way better. Especially with the portrayal of the relationship between Portia and James. Yeah, it was pretty bad.
But before I talk about any racism or sexism, let me just review the episode in general, because I know that most of you will not read the rest of my review if you get pissed off at what I say about the above issue.
Do you ever get frustrated with women in the mainstream music world? I do! I remember a couple years ago I tried to sit down and list some of my favorite female musicians/singers and was dismayed to realize that there were surprisingly few. I further noticed that almost every song was about love, break ups, or “angry women songs,” as I like to call them. “Angry women songs” are usually my favorite because it’s all about the ladies being pissed off and finally standing up for themselves. However, though there are exceptions, many of these angry women songs were very romance centered. The theme seemed to be “my man was an asshole so I left him and now I’m awesome and empowered. Fuck yeah!” Now there isn’t anything wrong with these types of songs, but every so often I’d like to listen to music, made by women, that reflects my life and the life of other women a little more realistically.
Enter this week’s Web Crush: Garfunkel and Oates.