Railway Romeo is a tragic character

So this dude, Brian Robinson, is described by the NY Post as a “railway Romeo” because Robinson claims “he has gone on 500 dates with women he has met on the subway”.

I don’t even know 500 people, but then I exist on Twitter and consider journeys beyond my study more daunting than Frodo’s journey to Mount Doom. I’ve always had an issue in general with men’s approach to “picking up” women (ugh, that phrase); it seems to ratchet up the creep levels when there’s formulas involved as with all pick up artists (PUA) formulas. [Read more…]

Women: wearing revealing clothes summon dark forces, please beware!

To give some background, Hannah Graham is an 18-year-old University of Virginia student who’s been missing for some time. The police have a suspect:

Charlottesville police named 32-year-old Jesse Matthew a suspect in the disappearance, and he was detained in Texas on Wednesday after he also disappeared for a short time. So far, he has refused to talk with investigators about what he might know about Graham, whom he was seen with the night she disappeared. Police have released little else about what led them to name him as their prime suspect. (NBC News)

It’s horrible story. I will never be a parent, but I have loved ones and have lost loved ones. I can’t imagine the pain the parents must be going through.

Hannah Graham’s parents addressed the public for the first time Sunday when they appeared at a news conference to ask for information about their missing daughter. John Graham spoke lovingly of his 18-year-old daughter. His wife Sue stood by his side.

John Graham asked anyone who had information into the whereabouts of Hannah Graham daughter, a second-year University of Virginia student, to come forward.

“This is every parent’s worst nightmare,” John Graham said. “We need to find out what happened to Hannah to make sure it doesn’t happen to anyone else.” (Wtvr)

My sympathies go out to these unfortunate people. I would say, “no doubt we all feel this way”, except someone called Debbie Schlussel is being a totally awesome human being about this entire situation. It’s hard to read this. But here we go. [Read more…]

I was Muslim: The reason I became an active atheist is now why I’m not one

Disclaimer: I didn’t want to write this. I am no one. An insignificant blogger, with no hard financial security, no listing on a best-seller list. I am about as much a threat to rich, older, white men as a mosquito is to a rock. I don’t do this for “hits” (the small amount I make from Freethought Blogs goes to charity. I don’t tell people that since that’s no one’s business, really, but feel it necessary to convey exactly what I’m setting up). There’s so little to be gained from doing this. But perhaps I should. (People who claim I’m doing this for clickbait are to be taken as seriously as those claiming men supporting gender equality do so solely for sexual favours.)

For the few who have followed my writing (hi, mom), you know how much I hate being biographical. When I do write biographical material, it is to add to the largely low volume of ex-Muslim people willing to speak out. They don’t speak out because of legitimate fears, because the culture of Islam, even in Western societies, still carries heavy burdens hard to convey, because unlike a white atheist, a brown one with a “Muslim” name is uncommon. To this day, I’m still being told I “look” Muslim, when I’m wearing jeans and a normal jacket. I can’t escape the weird identity I have and it’s this identity which makes me so angry at the leading figures – i.e. white men – of a movement that changed my life. But I’m more fucking angry at the sycophantic nature of a movement that was supposed to have abandoned sanctity for reason and evidence. [Read more…]

“But she’s wrong about Hitman!”

I wrote this as a comment on gaming site I write for  – on Anita Sarkeesian and the topic of disagreement in game culture. Thought I’d post it here so I could curate proper discussion, because this is an issue I’m grappling with as a game and culture “critic” – and as a person trying to be decent. [sic] all around.

I’m not a fan of her work, but don’t see why a woman facing death, rape and bomb threats, who is at least bringing conversation, requires me to do in-depth criticism, 300 youtubes of how she’s wrong about Hitman, etc.

Frankly, I’d rather defend her right to be part of the culture and focus on her and others’ safety, than how they don’t get my favourite game is actually super important and the best thing ever. Games matter less than people’s safety.

Second there are plenty of people who deserve more attention for how wrong they are about games, such as those who say it “causes” violence, journalists who flout their swag, show off and show little engagement with material of games, developers who screw their audience, Kickstarter failures, etc. All these are actually detrimental. One person’s YouTube criticism is not.

I’m actually not interested in people’s criticisms of her work. First, because I have my own; second, who needs to hear it right now? Will the industry die because your voice wasn’t heart against Sarkeesian?

Imagine meeting an astrologer who’s got death threats and demanding he pay you attention, from a screaming mob, so that you can deliver criticism of his pseudoscience. I don’t care that you’re right about astrology; I care that you’re using time and energy to criticise him when you could be using it to defend him against bullies threatening him.

I also want to add: If we want to develop a culture that handles criticism properly, we need to care about people first. For example, those wanting “social issues” removed from game reviews are wanting solidification of the current state; the state that allows so many people to reach this level of anger at harmless women. Games can’t be removed from social dynamics anymore than cars or paintings can be. How you examine such items devoid of the contexts and identities that gave rise to such things in the first place is beyond me – except that you’d be delivering the most neutral, bland inhuman aspects of it. Imagine describing the Mona Lisa by listing the colours and direction of brushstrokes – that’s what it sounds like to me when you plead for objectivity. (No I don’t think every game write-up should analyise the race/sex aspects and what the second tree really means; but I do think such things can be written and should be done without cries of it being not part of gaming – or that it’s “ruining” games.)

You want to criticise Sarkeesian – Great. Work on creating a culture where doing so is done maturely, civilly and with sensitivity to the other person as the default. By pushing through with your criticism, you’re making it clear you don’t care about the current context a harmless person is facing for merely trying to make games better. Whether she’s right is debatable; whether she – and others – should have her life and safety threatened is not. Right now, I know what my priority is in this particular instance.

Maybe one day we can debate the merits of her video – and I might actually agree with you on some points. But now is not that time and, as indicated, there are other targets more worth your criticism. Otherwise you just become part of the climate that is already a room of knives.

In which I make the case against comment sections cos I hate free speech

In the Guardian I made the case. I did! At least according to some commenters.

Yup. Free speech is bad and by removing comment sections I can magically prevent everyone in the world ever having conversations, silence their dissent and such. Did you know before comment sections, no writers or thinkers or people were ever told they were wrong? Yes! Criticism never happened in alternate ways, such as in-depth discussions, letters, and so on.

No. Only comment sections.

I had no idea that shutting off comment sections meant shutting off people’s internet access and ability to start their own blogs, use forums, etc. But as I hate free speech and am a dictator, I am obviously glad. Anyway, I have to go sit on my thrown made of the silent screams of my critics which I will never ever hear ever again because I am all-powerful and none shall ever oppose me.

 

Celebrity hacks and victim-blaming: Responding to 3 common claims

Jennifer Lawrence and other celebrities have had (nude) photos stolen. I noticed three, of many, recurring responses, mostly it seems from my fellow men dictating what women should do with their bodies. Cos, yeah: of course.

Others have said these things more eloquently. But here’s some responses to claims about celebrity privacy violations – i.e. nude photo leaks – that we need to keep reinforcing.

  1. “Who cares?”

Celebrities may be annoying to many; celebrity culture itself is to me largely horrible. Celebrities are not necessarily talented, merely people with a large audience. However, the key here is “people” – not monsters. Presumably we want a better world for people – thus if bad things happen to people, we should defend and support them. This isn’t about whether they themselves actually notice – but it does mean setting up an environment that reacts appropriately to when women have their photos leaked and aren’t berated as “sluts“; it’s about reinforcing a space, like the Internet, that doesn’t spread stolen information from people because they’re “hot”. After all, women who are not celebrities at all, have the same thing happen to them. [Read more…]

“So what if you’re offended”

You’ve seen this, no doubt.

If I never have to see this quote or picture again, I think the world would be a better place.

Now, it’s not because it’s false. It’s not because Fry isn’t spot on about this being a sometimes correct reaction to, say, wide-eyed religious conservatives who want to ban books, censor science, etc. Indeed, the context was in conversation with Christopher Hitchens about the pernicous way “offense” from religious people was seen as sufficient reason to censor – it was about the idiot notion of blasphemy as still regarded as legitimate in secular, civil society. (South Africa couldn’t distribute a book some years ago because it offended some members of the Muslim community. That mindset, years ago, is also why I heard about and wanted to read The Satanic Verses; and one-two-skip-a-few I’m now an ex-Muslim. Streisand Effect leading to atheism.) [Read more…]

One small thing normal folks do when talking about people they’re attracted to

#1: Not making bloody lists detailing what constitutes “attractive”.

I have a guest blogpost responding to an awful article detailing what makes women attractive – or rather what constitutes “attractive girls”. I genuinely get to use “not all men” properly a few times.

In response to those who tell me how to write about diversity

This actually isn’t specifically about games. But this is the context.

A little while back, I wrote a review for a slo-mo, Nazi murder simulation called Sniper Elite 3: Afrika.

Video games.

I found the game problematic in a number of areas, notably the lack of character (development) or meaningful plot, dull graphics, dull story, and homogenous character models. That is, the game features absolutely no one who isn’t white or male. I indicated that this is indicative of a wider problem in gaming; that, worryingly, it’s something that probably didn’t even cross the creators’ minds. For a game subtitled “Afrika”, you’d think maybe other people aside from white males would be included. [Read more…]