So it’s come to this…

A new online strategy game entitled Prime World is going to be offering discounts to players who use characters consistent with their IRL gender. Or, in other words, ratcheting up the cost to provide a financial disincentive to those who would prefer to play as the “opposite” sex.

Lovely Lord All-Made-Up.

I don’t think I really need to walk you guys through all the numerous and creepy sexist, transphobic and gender-binarist implications of this (trying to BRIBE people into gender conformity? Really?!). And I also don’t really recommend reading the comments on the aforementioned article.

But those comments have got one of the most fascinatingly gaping voids of trans-erasure I’ve ever seen, with people mentioning every conceivable reason someone might explore alternative gender expression by playing as a cross-gender character except for actually wanting to explore alternative gender expression. It’s amazing.

It’s really interesting to me the degree to which our ideas about people assuming cross-gender characters in video games or role-playing, or cross-gender identities on internet message boards and chat rooms, is so thoroughly and steadfastly divorced from the obvious transgender implications. The near total refusal for people to accept how trans-ness plays into these things. [Read more…]

Guyliner, Murses, Bromance And Femmephobia

I’m on vacation this week! This post originally appeared at Skepchick.

There’s been a lovely and adorable video circulating on the tubes-osphere the last few days that I’m sure has helped bolster a comforting sense of optimism about the next generation’s understanding of gender. A little girl named Riley gets irate about the toy store’s division into a pink section and an “every other colour” section, and the way that marketers “trick” girls and boys into liking particular kinds of products:

Notice something? [Read more…]

Birdo, Poison And How To Construct Trans-Pride From Transphobia

I’m not really a gamer. I don’t own any consoles. It’s been a long, long time since I did. I’m usually pretty okay with that. Life is too big and expansive to fit all its subjects and media and passions into one little brain and lifetime. With some things you just have to accept “okay, I guess I’ll just be mostly oblivious about that particular thingy” or “okay, I guess I’ll just accept this particular gap in my education”.

(which is fine as long as you remember not to start acting like you are an expert on those things)

But every once in awhile, something comes along that makes me think yeah, I really kind of wish I did have a console or two, and was a gamer.

Like the recent release of Street Fighter X Tekken.

Why? Because I could play as Poison, the semi-iconic (and tediously “controversial”) transgender character originally from Final Fight. I could play as a beautiful, femme but totally badass trans woman, and spend all day kicking the will to live out of a series of virtual cisgender assholes. Kick back and harmlessly vent my increasingly pent up rage at a non-virtual world where all too often we’re the ones who get hurt. [Read more…]

Caustic Soda

I am exhausted. Very very exhausted. Between the controversies last week, the Axp thread, another shitstorm of atheist/skeptic bigotry and hostility and flaunted privilege over at CFI Okanagan’s Facebook page, and this lovely comment posted about me at r/lgtb:

I am getting very worn out. I’m a tenacious little bitch, but even I have my limits. I’m about one more hostile, petty, transphobic remark away from taking Stephanie up on her suggestion to just spend the rest of the week posting My Little Pony videos and drinking Sonic Screwdrivers (vanilla vodka, blue curacao, and lemon/lime soda). Unfortunately, I’ve kinda already set aside the last week of the month for a break (since I’m finally moving into a new apartment), and I’d be loathe to take it early. So carry on I must.

*wilting flower back-of-hand to forehead pose*

But for this afternoon, I’m nonetheless just going to take it a bit easy, and simply recommend a particularly awesome podcast based here in Vancouver, and featuring some intensely awesome people… Joe Fulgham, Toren Atkinson and Kevin Leeson. It’s called Caustic Soda. [Read more…]

Why I Love Doctor Who

You know, I hate to admit it , but despite appearances my geek credentials aren’t nearly as solid as they look.

(who am I kidding? I don’t actually mind admitting it at all)

I’m just not really all that into it all. I’m a mac user, and not a particularly talented one, and generally find computers and technology an uninteresting sort of bewildering. I read very few superhero comics, mostly prefer “indie” / “alternative” comics like Chris Ware, Lynda Barry (go Geoducks!), James Kochalka, Dame Darcy, Charles Burns (go Geoducks!) and Daniel Clowes, and my impressive knowledge of DC and Marvel canon is just because I’m freakishly good at remembering trivia and go on lots of wiki walks (though I really do adore Dr. Strange, and loved the X-Men when I was a kid). I’ve seen very little Buffy, only a couple episodes of Firefly, and don’t think Joss Whedon is all that impressive, really. Just pretty good at what he does. I’ve never seen the Battlestar Galactica reboot at all, and may never really bother getting around to it. I hate Kevin Smith, and The Big Bang Theory, with a fiery passion. I’ve never ever read Orson Scott Card, David Eddings (except for the first few chapters of the first Belgariad book when I was 10), Terry Pratchett,  Suzanne Collins, George R.R. Martin, J.K. Rowling or Isaac Asimov. I really love basketball, fashion, high art, punk rock and poetry. I’m really just a sort of culturally omnivorous sort so I just end up really liking some random things that happen to be part of geek culture (like Douglas Adams or tabletop roleplaying) and have the aforementioned weird memory thing that lets me memorize lots of canon even from franchises I don’t particularly care about…. which then lets me hang out with people who do love those things, and carry on friendly conversations with them about it, even though I don’t actually care. [Read more…]

So Amy Pond Is Cool… But What About Irene Adler?

You know I can’t resist a good Doctor Who / Steven Moffat discussion. Especially when feminism is involved.

Yesterday, the extraordinary Stephanie Zvan of Almost Diamonds posted a response to some less-than-great criticisms levied against Mr. Moffat and the storyline he had written for Amy Pond in the most recent series of Doctor Who. Stephanie did a really great job of indicating how some of these feminist critiques of Pond’s character and arc are actually more reductive and sexist than anything Moffat himself had done.

Now, a couple weeks ago, I would have simply cheered and been on-side with Stephanie regarding this, because I really didn’t understand why people seemed to regard Moffat as being sexist. None of his work on Doctor Who really leapt out at me as such, he seemed to be doing a better job with his female characters and exploring female experiences than Russell Davies had, and he was easily head and shoulders above the vast majority sci-fi writers’ handling of women. I’m looking at you, Lost.

But then I watched Sherlock. In particular, I watched the second series premier, “A Scandal In Belgravia”. And what I saw was one of the most misogynistic stories I’d ever seen on television.

Spoilers ahead. [Read more…]

Cloud Atlas and The Lana Wachowski Wiki War

There’s a beautiful, wonderful, intricate novel I love called Cloud Atlas. I’d probably be willing to put it in my top ten novels list, if I had a top ten novels list. Do I have a top ten novels list? Maybe I should have a top ten novels list. I’m going to write one more sentence ending in top ten novels list.

It’s structured as six separate stories, nested inside one another like Matryoshka dolls. Each story hops across genres, and moves forward through time. The first is a 19th(?) century journal of a man sailing in the south Pacific, then an epistolary set of letters sent from a bisexual composer exiled in Belgium in the early 20th century to his ex-boyfriend back in England as he becomes embroiled in a complicated love affair and struggle to complete his own masterpiece, then a sort of mystery thriller in the mid 20th century as an investigative journalist unravels a cover-up of flawed safety precautions in a nuclear power plant, then a comedy of errors in present(ish) day as a publisher finds himself mistakenly imprisoned in a nursing home, then a dystopian ultra-corporate future cyberpunk version of Korea where a cloned slave for a fast food chain develops self-awareness and rebels for freedom, and finally a post-apocalyptic (very post, no one even remembers what happened) distant future Hawaii where industrialized civilization has long since collapsed and the few surviving humans are living tribal, pre-agrarian lives.

The stories move forward, getting cut off at crucial points and revealed as a story being followed by a character in the next section, until the middle of the novel, at which point the last story is told completely through, then we start moving backwards into the completions of each story until finally ending on the one we started with: The Pacific Journal Of Adam Ewing.

It’s absolutely, staggeringly, breathtakingly awesome. You should read it. Now. Right away. Before something I’m about to tell you about happens. It’s written by David Mitchell. [Read more…]

“I Am The Lorax. I Speak For The Gender Binary.”

On Thursday night I went out to see The Muppets with a few friends. It was actually really, really good! Funny, cute, and clearly a sincere, heartfelt love letter to The Muppet Show and simultaneously an homage to Muppet fandom. It was fun seeing it with a pretty big group of really cool people too, Muppet fans all. I had a nice time. I even got a little bit teary-eyed when they sang The Rainbow Connection, which I honestly consider one of the greatest songs of the 20th century.

The quality of the movie, though, was just barely able to make up for the unspeakable Eldritch horror that was the trailer for the upcoming CG-animated adaptation of The Lorax. Yes, dear readers, it looks every bit as bad as you fear, and then some.

[Read more…]