Category Archives: Feminism
Dear gamer culture,
Yes, “gamer girls,” that is, people who play video games while having two X chromosomes, DO, in fact, exist. It turns out, people don’t typically use their genitalia to manipulate controllers or keyboards, so women are just as a capable as men at playing and enjoying games. We really mean it when we say we like games. It’s not something we pretend to like to get attention, impress boys, or entertain our boyfriends.
“Gamer girls” may occasionally play games in various states of dress within the privacy of our own homes, just like boys do. However, we don’t typically lie around naked in our own beds, using only miscellaneous console controllers to cover our bits. That’s a fantasy, and a silly one. Sure, you’ve probably seen images of women posing suggestively with video game accessories, but you can blame the industry for it, not us. Using women to pander to immature, sexist males is nothing new in advertising That is to say, marketers think male gamers are stupid. You should be as insulted by it as we are.
We would like the industry to recognize our existence. You shouldn’t be afraid of this. When we say that we want game developers to recognize us as a demographic, we are NOT demanding that game companies put out Barbie games. We already like the games that exist pretty well.
We don’t want every game to feature female protagonists, or protagonists with selectable genders. But SOME would be nice. Why should every story be about the same kinds of people, right? It would be nice if at least a FEW “Game of the Year” titles reliably passed the Bechtel test.
We do have an issue with sexism in games (see earlier commentary about advertising ) and so should you. Games shouldn’t be insulting to their audiences, and if games weren’t so frequently hostile to women, the existence of “gamer girls” wouldn’t be such a surprise. Addressing this issue can only lead developers away from lazy design and on to better games as a result.
Watch these videos. Shut up and do it.
There was a time once when you couldn’t criticize anything George W. Bush, or is criminal comrades did, for fear of being accused of being “unpatriotic.” See, the Republicans have been terrifyingly successful at branding themselves as “patriotic” even as they lied to the American public, started pointless wars, and stomped all over the Constitution. What they were doing was not at all patriotic, but they declared it so.
As a feminist, it bothers me quite a deal when people mischaracterize feminism. Anti-feminist do this quite a deal, blaming everything they can on feminism no matter how absurd. But what is worse, I think, is when people who call themselves feminist attempt to misappropriate feminism for their own agenda. Feminism means gender equality. It does NOT mean that women (or mothers, specifically) deserve special privilege. Some people who advocate for such a thing do so under the guise of feminism, apparently not knowing or caring about what that term actually means.
I could list off countless examples of this, but what is really getting to me lately is the way self-proclaimed feminists have reacted to Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer’s support of work policies that do NOT treat mothers as special beings. Mayer herself does not call herself a feminist, even though she very likely actually is by definition. It’s just as well, since people who do call themselves feminists but actually are natalism-worshippers out for special treatment now accuse her of being un-feminist.
Here’s the thing, moms don’t deserve paid leave, flexible hours, or work-from-home privileges any more than anyone else. They just don’t. They may WANT those things and find it advantageous to have those things, but that doesn’t mean that they are owed such special treatment. I might find it advantageous to be given 1 million dollars for nothing, but that doesn’t mean that I actually deserve it or that anyone is un-feminist to anyone who does give it to me. Bring your kids to work? Unless it’s a daycare, NO! Be responsible and get a sitter!
Maternity leave? Save your vacation time and save your money, just like anyone else who takes time off. Nine months is plenty of time to prepare and plan. If you can’t do that, you probably shouldn’t be reproducing anyway.
Flexible hours? Work from home? Yeah, everyone (except the employers who would likely suffer from the decline in productivity,) would like that, but it’s not always practical and no one deserves it more than anyone else, not by virtue of being a woman or a mother.
“But it’s haaard to be a mom and work!” No kidding. It would also be hard to hold a regular job while also running a farm or doing anything else that consumes a lot of time. PLAN ACCORDINGLY AND BE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE CONSEQUENCES OF YOUR CHOICES, LIKE REAL ADULTS!
Contrary to popular belief, employers are not babysitters for grown-ups. You have to be responsible for your own “work-life balance.” The business is paying you to WORK, not to have a personal life. Set your own goals and priorities and be aware that they are not always fully compatible and CHOOSE RESPONSIBLY!
Special treatment for moms just for being moms is NOT feminist. In fact, fear of lost money and productivity by catering to every absurd fake-feminist, natalism-worshipping demand HURTS WOMEN. Employers sometimes find themselves reluctant to hire women of reproductive age for fear they’ll turn entitle-mommy and completely screw them over. I seem to recall this very risk being one of the arguments against the feminist push to normalize women being allowed in the workplace. I really wish interviewers were allowed to ask about a female applicant’s reproductive plans, but they don’t seem to have that legal ability.
So thanks, fake-feminist natalism-worshippers. Your attempts to garner special treatment for certain women for their lifestyle choices is creating a huge step backwards for gender-equality, real feminism.
My dream skipped pregnancy. It skipped how it progressed, how I dealt with it, and how it could have even happened in the first place. My dream also skipped the violence of birth, which I am thankful for. In my dream, I was already a mother. My boy was already here with me, in my arms.
In my dream, I was seated, on a city bus, of all things. I haven’t had to ride one of those in years. I hate them. And I love my sports car. The seat beside me was conspicuously absent. My boyfriend has always said he doesn’t want to be a father. Worst of all, I was also in my home-town, the place I grew up and where my parents still live. I had long ago grown out of this town and left it behind me as I started my own life. And now I was back.
These details alone pretty much told me everything that I needed to know about my living situation. It seems my life had been blown far off-course. I was alone, dependent upon my parents, and quite broke.
I sat there and lost myself in thought. What happened to my goals of perusing an education and bettering myself through learning? What happened to traveling and seeing the world? What happened to my future with the man I love? What happened to living the life I want? What happened to my freedom? What happened to my bright future? It was all gone. I’d apparently traded it all for motherhood, and I couldn’t imagine why.
How could this have happened? I never wanted to be a mother. I realized and announced this proudly from an early age and had never waivered. I had always been responsible with my birth control and my planning. I’d even recently had myself surgically sterilized. I even had a sound back-up plan in the improbable event of an accidental pregnancy – an immediate abortion. How is this even possible? How could I have let it come to this? What had I done?
What about my friends? What will they think? I’d been so adamant about not wanting kids, and prideful in my promotion of my childfree life. They’ll roll their eyes and never believe another thing I say. My elders who had always insisted I’d changed my mind would look at me smugly and say, “I told you so.” And what about my younger siblings? What kind of example am I setting for them, being so irresponsible and quitting on my goals?
I sat there, miserable and lost in despair. I hated myself. I hated everything. My life was over.
I felt something squirming against me. I looked down at my baby boy as I held him in my arms and he looked back at me. He looked like any baby, I guess. Small, pudgy features. I suppose he resembled my brother as a baby, with a pale face, blue eyes, and wispy tufts of blonde hair. He was quiet, not screaming at the top of his lungs as I imagine babies often do. And he didn’t smell either, requiring no diaper change. He just stared back up at me with those big, round, uncomprehending baby eyes. As far as babies go, this one wasn’t so bad, at that moment. It seems like, in my dream, babies were shown in the best possible light. Quiet. Un-demanding. Non-smelly. Content. Sweet. Innocent. It’s like he was the perfect child.
I remember what people used to say to me, when I was young and not yet sterilized and breeding was still an option. They’d make arguments which I called “bingos” because they were so cliché, I could fill out a Bingo game card with them. Arguments like: ”You say you don’t want kids now, but you’ll love them when they’re here,” and, “It’s different when it’s your own.” I gazed upon the child inexplicably in my arms and considered these words. The boy cooed and reached one clumsy, stubby arm up at me, trying to touch his mother’s face.
I pulled my head away from him, repelled. No, it wasn’t different. I still didn’t want him. At all. I felt absolutely no love for him. I didn’t even like him. In fact, I resented him for existing, even though I knew I had only myself to blame for that. He was just an uninteresting object to me, representing a burden I never wanted and thought I had long ago rejected. He was everything that went wrong in my life. I never wanted to be a mom. And in this dream, my nightmare, in which I had what seemed like the most unnaturally peaceful baby in the world, I still didn’t want to be a mother.
I signaled for the bus to stop at some random point along the route. I stood up, turned, and laid the baby back down on the bus seat. I left the baby behind, stepping off the bus and into the sunshine, a free woman. And I didn’t look back.
Then I woke up, glad it was over. I lifted my shirt and checked my tubal ligation scars. Still there. Still sterile. Still safe. People have insisted that childfree women secretly, perhaps subconsciously, desire children, despite our vocal insistence to the contrary. It seems my own subconscious disagrees. Relieved that the nightmare was over and would never and could never become reality, I resumed my rest and slept in late, as I often do. I was never awoken by a baby, real or imagined, ever again.
During a recent visit to a childed friend’s house, we somehow got into a conversation about pets. She told me that she didn’t want to have dogs, ever. That would have been fine, except she used the term “dog-free.” As a dog person, I couldn’t help but cringe at the word. (And just what, pray tell, is wrong with dogs?) It was a knee-jerk reaction, as I quickly realized. Of course I know that to properly care for dogs means a lot of work and sacrifice, not to mention a sizable lifestyle and priory re-arrangement. Animal shelters and cases of abuse and neglect are all the evidence I need that not all humans are suitable caretakers of my canine friends. As for this friend of mine, she wasn’t interested in taking dogs in, which is fine. But the word “dog-free” still affected me like a newspaper to the snout.
Some people take offense with the word, “childfree.” I’ve heard it multiple times called a “loaded term.” Frequently, it’s argued that the term implies a negative value to parenthood and children. The problem that critics of the term find is that “childfree” gives voluntary childlessness a positive light, while not only not doing the same for parenthood, but framing it as an undesirable thing. In a society which is prone to practically worship natalism, often at the expense of the childless who are cast as either pitiable or untrustworthy, such a thing is highly noticeable. In recent conversations that I’ve observed and a few I’ve taken part in, people have likened the term to “cancer-free,” as in one is free of something damaging. Others have seen the word “free” as implying that being childed is viewed as a form of bondage or imprisonment, something one should want to be free from. The term “childfree,” by its very design, frames parenthood as an undesirable thing that one would purposely avoid. A burden. A misfortune. An irritation. A ruinous situation.
Those critics are absolutely correct. The term “childfree” really does convey the message that parenthood is undesirable, and that’s exactly the reason I use it, rather than the more ambiguous “childless.” Parenthood, children, that really is undesirable for me. I do see being a parent as a damaging burden. In fact, I can think of few things I could possibly find more repellent than ever breeding. I’d say that frontal lobotomy doesn’t rank much higher on what is surely a very short list of more unpleasant things. I don’t want to have children. I don’t want to be a parent. I am fully entitled to not only make the decision to never breed, but also to convey my feelings on the matter, especially as they only relate to myself. Why shouldn’t I be allowed to find something undesirable and consequentially opt out?
My “dog-free” friend, I figure, must have viewed taking care of a dog in a similar way. But what I realize is that she was speaking only of herself. She doesn’t want dogs. She wasn’t saying that I shouldn’t want dogs or that there is anything wrong with dogs. That’s more or less what I mean when I talk about my own view of having children (although I keep an eye to overpopulation, both with children and dogs.) I don’t have a problem with my friend for having a child or with the child himself just as she doesn’t have a problem with me having a dog or my dog herself. When this friend visited me, she and my dog got along famously. In the evening, they even cuddled up on my couch together and watched Captain America. That same day, I had an Easter Basket prepared for her young son.
I don’t know if this friend of mine ever took the term “childfree” as a personal jab in the same way that I momentarily took the term “dog-free.” But I think that when we take a minute to be mature adults and consider the respective matters rationally we realize that the world isn’t about us. No, not everything is about you, personally. No, my childfreedom is not about parents, it’s about me, about my life, about my choices. It isn’t about anyone else. I’m not insulting the choices of parents as I am simply not considering them into the equation at all. My life is not about yours.
So I will continue to use the term “childfree” as it is the best one that I know of to describe my view on the matter. If anyone still wants to get their panties in a twist over it, that’s their problem, not mine.
The “Walk For Life” is anything but. This demonstration/fundraiser is an anti-choice attack on women’s rights, health, and our very lives. The money raised benefits Life Network, which is an organization that attacks reproductive justice and funds FAKE CLINICS to deceive and endanger women. They’re a sick organization with a lot of blood on their hands, with the nerve to call themselves “pro-life.”
Colorado Springs will be the site of this misogynistic spectacle on June the second. It’s 2012 and people can still get away with blatant bigotry and people act like there’s nothing wrong. Not only is this event allowed and with no notable opposition, at least to my knowledge, but local businesses are openly supporting this attack on women without care.
Well, I care, and so should you. Please share this list and don’t do business with those who would oppose reproductive healthcare, STD prevention and treatment, accurate sexual education, contraception, and abortion care – all of which are necessary for healthy men, women, and children.
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