Why it matters that the internet’s made by men

The amazing Soraya Chemaly has a piece up about the internet being made of bros and why that matters.

Tech’s institutionalised male dominance, and the sex segregation and hierarchies of its workforce, have serious and harmful effects globally on women’s safety and free expression.

This is what Soraya documents throughout the piece. From revenge porn to the kinds of abuse women face, that segregates it from the kind men receive.

[Read more…]

I am made dead by Gamergate verbosity

I wrote an article about Gamerbro-types owning up to their own politics and social agendas – instead of making boring, obviously false assertions like “We just wanna play games”, “Keep politics out of games”, etc. Why am I comfortable enough to play and review games, and also talk about my own view of politics and social issues, but my “critics” are not?

Why is it OK to mention the number of pixels but not the low number of people of colour? It’s never been explained but we can all start having proper discussions when such folks own up to their views; just admit “I find race issues boring”, “It makes me uncomfortable to confront sexism”.

That’s so much more honest, so much more fruitful than trying to silence us with “make it about games” – when, for me, so much of diversity issues is seen in games. It is about games, for me: Telling me to keep quiet about race in games is telling me not to experience games. And if you don’t want to read about my experience of games, don’t read my reviews. These people are not babies, but for some reason this needs to be explained.

Regardless, a very boring commenter went on a verbose rampage, trying to drown us all in words – because, I guess, mortality isn’t an issue when you have an endless spawn option. I mean just look at this Niagra fall of words!

I’m working some things out, so here’s a fisk.

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Bros are not happy with Men’s Magazines getting rid of pick-up artist bullshit

As surely as night follows day, men angered by having creepy behaviour questioned and criticised will stand proudly to defend such behaviour. I, for one, am glad to know who to avoid and inform my friends of. I feel compelled to send them Meninist hoodies, the poor things.

One such fellow is Christian McQueen who writes a blog for men dreaming of “living the playboy lifestyle”. His Twitter bio reads “I didn’t invent the playboy lifestyle. I just perfected it”, which is great and I am super happy for him. However, he doesn’t appear to be happy with my country’s Men’s Health’s recent decision to purge itself of pick-up artist bullshit.

There could be a good discussion on ethics policy: Is MH going too far? Are they not unecessarily removing content that’s proven to help and not harm? We can have those discussions, but I’m not certain Mr McQueen is interested in that, so much as yelling at “weak-kneed beta bitch boy editors”.

Let’s see what’s upset him. [Read more…]

To the men “concerned” about the new Ghostbusters that happen to star women

Hey, fellow male Ghostbuster fans. I wanna talk.

But let’s first recap.

So, I’m also quite the Ghostbusters fan. I saw the first two films probably about ten times each, owned the toys, watched the TV shows. A few years ago, I rewatched both and bought the video game (which was scripted by Aykroyd and Ramis, serving as the official third part of the Gozer trilogy).

 

In other words, I’m a really big fan of this franchise.

I was really excited about a third film. Then Murray showed hesitation. Then Ramis died. Then we heard rumours that it would star only women. And then, yesterday, it was kinda-sorta confirmed.

Via The Hollywood Reporter:

Melissa McCarthy, who was already in talks for one of the leads, has signed on for the Paul Feig-directed reboot, and Sony is now negotiating with Kristen Wiig as well as Saturday Night Live players Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.

Negotiations are ongoing, but the quartet are expected to sign on as the specter-seeking, poltergeist-punishing, phantom-phollowing foursome in the reboot, which is eyeing a summer shoot in New York.

Of course, you may notice an issue that always upsets the internet: Women. Yeah. Women and their… existence. The Internet and humanity doesn’t seem particularly happy.

Amy O’Connor, from The Daily Edge, noticed some not very friendly responses. (I’ve blocked out the users’ names for ethical reasons.) [Read more…]

What progress looks like: Men’s magazine wants to purge itself of Pick Up Artist bullshit

So a few days ago, a friend of mine made fun of me for writing for our local Men’s Health, on how men need to care about everyday sexism. He showed me a post they published about to “how to get a girl’s number”. I read and Tweeted about it.

As almost always, these sorts of articles come off as creepy blatant or glorified pick-up artist bullshit. I explained a little.

This morning I received some messages from the official Men’s Health (South Africa) Twitter account. [Read more…]

Should we mock people who use virtual girlfriend services?

At Daily Beast, I argued maybe not.

This is key. The problem here isn’t necessarily the person, but the expectations of others, like family members. If someone really does feel some freedom to live their life without parents prying, why should we view that as “sad”? Why should we consider this option worthy of scorn when it’s a way for someone, who is not as free or as stable in their relationships as the rest of us, to deal with problems?

While ideally our relationship lives are no one’s business, people from all over the world still are afraid of revealing their sexual orientation, their views on marriage, and so on. The specter of religious tradition obviously looms large and, as much as faith is losing its impact, it still has an effect on older generations’ judgments of the rest of us. A service that can help mitigate bigoted fears can provide some form of freedom to gain strength, security, and a real partner if they so choose.

Read the whole piece there.

An argument to reconsider words is not “thought policing”

How many people would use the k-word slur or a non-human animal species to describe persons of colour? Would any of you call me “camel-fucker”? Would you use “faggot” to describe a gay person? I imagine the answer to these is no – and it’s a “no” driven not by fear of police or lawyers, but some sense of morality.

Can you imagine anyone having to write an article today asking people not to use the k-word to describe black people? It seems ridiculous, because you probably don’t need to be convinced of that. If I had to blog about why you should not describe me as a “camel fucker” or “raghead” or “Paki”, I’d imagine you’d ask: Who the hell is this for? 

But let’s say there was someone, a white man,  who had never encountered these terms used in a bad way or himself used it as a term of endearment in an “ironic” way. Presumably such a person, who had never fully considered the impact on those it actually affects, would read my piece and reconsider his terms.

Whatever his conclusion, no one other than himself is preventing him from using those terms. I am not leaping out my blog to silence people who use “Paki”, I simply block them and conclude such people are not worth talking to. The entire Internet is available for Paki-bashers of the world to unite and use the term “ironically”.

That’s the end of it, really: Words on the internet ask you to reconsider using a term. Agree? Disagree? No one’s stopping you. Seems easy, no?

Well, judging from the way gamers responded to a similar suggestion about the term “Master Race”, maybe not. [Read more…]

Steve Jobs is anti-boner

This is quite an old little screencap and I saw it again today.

Here we can hear the lamentation of the boner, as it cries out against the wall of earbuds caging it in a blue kingdom. Woe to the boner that stands up but can find no release that women’s choice, decision and Steve Jobs hath design’d!

My favourite is how he misses everything:

“You can’t approach a woman with earbuds in her ears.”

Give the man a bells! Truly amazing. It’s almost… well, like woman intentionally wear earbuds to avoids creeps?

Now you may ask: But how will women know who are creeps and who are the nice guys, if they have their earbuds in? The answer is: If you are thwarted by earbuds, you’re a creep. If you feel that earbuds – and the subsequent intentional isolation they allow – are less important than you, you’re a creep. Indeed, the whole point is earbuds help identify who the creeps are, while simultaneously helping people not deal with them.

That’s their beauty.

And if you’re a dude who yanks earbuds out women’s ears or demands/requests they take them out so you can comment on their body, well I hope that Meninist Hoodie fits you nicely.

HT @ThatSabinGirl 

Comics are not for kids… or women

I thought I’d be writing about why I find this article a little problematic: It’s about a dad, Dave Phillips, who takes his kids to a comic store and has a road to Damascus moment, enlightened to the issues of women’s representation in comics and in general. His daughter can’t find a woman superhero wearing clothes and yet his son has little trouble choosing among 3,000 different fully-clothed Batmans/Batmen/Bat…people?

You’d think as someone who focuses on diversity and hating casual and outright sexism I’d be happy with it. But then some phrasing just… leapt out at me. [Read more…]

The ethics of fucking your father: It’s not about disgust

NYMag published Alexa Tsoulis-Reay’s interview with a woman who has been in a relationship with her father for many years – and, indeed, plans to get “married” and have kids with him. The important part is that she hadn’t seen her father for more than a decade, before she met him again as an adult. It is apparently a common enough occurrence that there’s an acronym.

In the late ’80s, the founder of a support group for adopted children who had recently reconnected with their biological relatives coined the term “Genetic Sexual Attraction” (GSA) to describe the intense romantic and sexual feelings that she observed occurring in many of these reunions. According to an article in The Guardian, experts estimate that these taboo feelings occur in about 50 percent of cases where estranged relatives are reunited as adults (GSA’s discoverer had herself become attracted to the son she’d adopted out when she met him 26 years later, but her feelings were not reciprocated).

Thus, this is not a case of an parent grooming his child into being his lover when she becomes an adult. There are other elements to be concerned about.

I’ve written about adult consensual incest before, pointing out that there are too many similarities in how homophobes react (“Ew! It’s wrong because it’s gross!”) that should make us concerned, if we push for calling such relationships always wrong. That doesn’t mean these relationships can’t be wrong – but they can be wrong for reasons other than the clickbaity “sharing more than Dad’s genes” part.

And this one has numerous problems. Please remember: I’m not convinced by blanket arguments against incest. But that doesn’t mean I support every case of adult incestuous relationships. And this is one of them.

First, the interview makes clear that this is a young lady inexperienced in relationships and indeed sexual encounters. She paints a rather troubled biography. Indeed, she had not had a male sexual partner before her father – only non-sexual boyfriend before.

Did you tell [your father] you were a virgin?
Yes. I told him I wanted him to be the first person I made love to. We talked about how it could be awkward if it didn’t end up working out. He also said that if I didn’t feel comfortable at any point I should tell him.

What was it like?
There’s a reason I lost my virginity to him — because I’d never felt comfortable with any other man. It was insanely sensual. It lasted for about an hour and there was a lot of foreplay. We both had orgasms. We are so similar so it’s so easy to sexually please each other. For example, we both hate neck-biting. I’ve never been in a more passionate, loving, fulfilling situation.

Notice the key part: “I’d never felt comfortable with any other man.” Well. Yes. You were young. Are young.

Indeed, even her views about sex and relationship are rather naive (and/or conservative, ironically).

I told him I was saving myself for someone who I’d be committed to for the rest of my life. It was important for me to make it clear that if I made love to him he was in a relationship with me.

I’ve always hated talk of “virginity” being lost or taken and “saving yourself”, where sex is put on a pedestal. It’s troubling because we come to wrap life-changing moments and views around it: No sex before marriage, the creation of kids, sex with only one person. The more we wrap sex up in sanctity, the more distant from reality it becomes. It’s no wonder that people go from “sex” to “the only person I’ll ever be attracted to or ever want forever” (a concept I find unbelievable, judging by, for example, divorce stats) .

And that this is her father? Yeah. That’s actually soooooooort of secondary to the fact that, as a much more experienced person, the power dynamic can’t help but exist – knowing what “sex” means to this young woman, I can’t see his acquiescing as being anything but manipulative regardless of his intention. She admitted her complete vulnerability to him and his response was to go along with it. This part isn’t actually a matter of consent, so much as it is responsibility on the part of the older, more experienced man thinking maybe she needs to grow up. That maybe her decision isn’t as informed as she thinks.

Again: this doesn’t mean consenting adults can’t engage in successful relationships despite being related; but we can pin down our concern over her age, her inexperience, her troubled history, her juvenile views of sex and relationships and how a more experienced, older man responded. That he’s her father only adds to the power dynamic – and therefore responsibility – and it seems like he made the wrong choice.

Indeed, she was around 16 when it first started  – that is, her second decade of life (“Here, an 18-year-old woman from the Great Lakes region describes her romantic relationship of almost two years with the biological father she met after 12 years of estrangement.”)

We can’t ignore how none of us knew anything at this age – let alone whether getting involved with an older person, who is a parent, is a good idea despite consent.

I can’t help see her relationship views as being entirely created from Disney films: she, in so many words, goes with “the one” narrative, and it happens to be the first person she has sex with. And also her father. Notice, again, that it’s her father can be put last in terms of reasons to be concerned.

The interview continues:

How quickly did he end things with his girlfriend?
We made sure to move out of the girlfriend’s immediately because we knew we couldn’t be together there. Before her, he was with a woman for eight years and she’s now our roommate. Talk about awkward for the first three months!

So this seems to imply her father cheated on his then girlfriend. Again: nothing to do with incest and there we can see that it’s wrong.

You’re engaged?
I’m planning on a full-on wedding but it won’t be legally registered. And personally, I don’t believe you need a piece of paper to prove that you want to be with the person you love.

Remember what I said about Disney films?

And now we come to my main concern: Kids.

So would you have kids together, or would you adopt?
We’ll have kids together

Will you tell your kids that their father is your dad, and their grandfather?
We’ve decided that most likely we won’t. I don’t want to give them any problems.

Would you feel comfortable keeping such a big secret?
That’s something I’ll have to figure out. His mom and dad will want to spend time with the grandkids, so we will have to decide how everyone will be known.

Do you worry about the potential genetic problems associated with having kids with your biological father?
Nope. I wouldn’t risk having a kid if I thought it would be harmful. I’ve done my research. Everybody thinks that kids born in incestuous relationships will definitely have genetic problems, but that’s not true. That happens when there’s years of inbreeding, like with the royal family. Incest has been around as long as humans have. Everybody just needs to deal with it as long as nobody is getting hurt or getting pressured or forced.

There are so many people having kids who will be passing on health problems, people with diabetes or mental health issues, or AIDS. My mom was allowed to have kids and both her and her mom were bipolar. My research tells me that the only real genetic risk is high blood pressure, which is controllable. I think people only worry about it because they look to the genetic problems that occurred when incest was happening generation upon generation. They say, Well, look at King Henry VIII — but he was only a genetic mutant because they had kept it in the family for so long.

My thoughts:

1. Why procreate and not adopt?

1. Why not adopt if you want to be parents?

1. Adoption is an option and there exist kids who need homes.

1. Why are you procreating and not adopting?

Ok those are the same, but that’s a key question (which anyone and everyone should be asking themselves, not just incestuous couples).

2. She says:

“We’ve decided that most likely we won’t [tell the kids their father is their grandfather]. I don’t want to give them any problems.”

Then don’t have them. The only way you won’t give your kids problems is if they remain non-existent. Considering how many people from your life already know, how exactly would your enforce this code of silence? The kids will more than likely discover this, given that they’ll be growing up in the internet age. How devastating will it be to them to be involved in a relationship they might not consent to?

You might say that’s society’s problem – and to some degree, yes. It is. But these kids still have to live in a society where it’s regarded as bad; there’s a reason she herself is hesitant about telling them! Maybe the fact that you don’t want to tell your kids about your relationship is exactly why you shouldn’t have kids – not why you should have secrets. It seems like an unnecessary harm that will shadow them for the rest of their lives, no matter how much you or I think incest isn’t as bad society makes it out to be.**

3. She raises a somewhat good response to the “what about kids from incest!” view. Again, if she wants to maximise the least harm, she should just not have them. And she can still be a parent, by adopting.

Anyway, this is a troubling case. But I hoped to try outline some reasons not premised on mere disgust that we can and should be concerned about it.

UPDATE:

** This is a shit argument and I can’t believe I made it. As Michael Brew points out in Comment #4: “This part sounds a bit too much like a similar argument against gay adoption or gay people with children having gay relationships.”