Newsweek Shocked – Shocked! To Find Racism Happening In Dress Codes

I nearly laughed myself silly over this recent piece at Newsweek.com:

Two black female students attending a charter school in Massachusetts were recently kicked off their sports teams and prohibited from attending a prom because they wore their hair in braids. The Mystic Valley Regional Charter School in Malden, about 9 miles from Boston, enforces a strict dress code preventing students from wearing their hair in any unnatural way, which includes braids.

Twin students Maya and Deanna Cook, African-American sophomores, told local news outlets they were first told to take their braids out two weeks ago by school officials. The girls’ adoptive mother, Colleen Cook, told Boston’s 25 News that she received a call from the school informing her that students weren’t allowed to wear “anything artificial or unnatural in their hair.”

“We told them there’s nothing wrong with their hair the way it is. Their hair is beautiful, there’s no correcting that needs to be done,” Colleen Cook said, adding that the hair policy seems to target only students of color, who wear their hair in braids or extensions reflecting their African-American culture.

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Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes Girls’ Night

So, I didn’t pick the title, that was a Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes forum user named JynErso42. But she has a post up on the Galaxy of Heroes forum that resulted from a conversation that mainly took place between the two of us.

If you’re not familiar with SW:GoH, it’s a tablet/smart phone game that’s a bit Magic the Gathering- or Pokemon-esque. The narrative sets you up as a player of a combat game at the HoloTables in a Cantina in some unspecified portion of the Star Wars galaxy. As you play your battles, you earn pieces of equipment (or pieces of pieces of equipment) that you use to equip your characters. You also earn “shards”. These shards enable you to “unlock” heroes you don’t yet have or to promote characters that you do. You also earn experience points. As you level up as a player, you can also level your characters up to the limit of your player level.

While naturally, there’s some fun to be had in actually playing out the battles, in “winning”, a great deal of the fun is simply in collecting the different characters and experimenting with them. JynErso42 – far more knowledgeable on the SW story-verse than I – noted a distinct lack of women or female characters. She posted to the boards noting that at the time of her message there were 91 male, masculine, or gender-unspecified-droid characters and 19 female or femininely-gendered characters. This seemed particularly odd to her since this ratio is, in her opinion, even more skewed than the source material from which SW:GoH draws. Apparently the books and even past games have been more gender-diverse.

EA/Capital Games – the programmers of SW:GoH – aren’t entirely unaware of this. They ran a brief event last year focusing on women characters. However there is nothing to indicate ongoing attention to the disparity or even to the many great women characters of the SW galaxy. JynErso42 wants to do something about that.

The suggestion won’t make any sense to those who don’t play the game, so I won’t discuss it here, but if you do play this fairly fun and greatly popular game, you might want to head over to the official game forums and lend your voice to a suggestion to move EA/CG towards greater emphasis on both its existing female/femininely-gendered characters as well as the many great characters in the SW source material that have yet to be translated into collectible toons.

I haven’t pushed for the portrayal of trans*, non-binary and/or complex genders because all the characters that have shown up in the game have existed in some form or other in the movies, books, TV series, and previous role-playing games, so I believe we’d have to get those portrayals into the books, movies & TV series first, but if you like you should feel free to push for those portrayals and I’ll back you up. It may ultimately be more productive, however, if you focus that effort on Disney itself.


Front page of the EA forums for SW:GoH is here.

I haven’t been able to figure out exactly where to send feedback on the Star Wars source material.

Hold My Beer: United Airlines, Part Duh

We’re all familiar with the fact that United repeatedly sells more tickets for their flights than they have room for passengers. They hope that among a hundred or more passengers, at least a couple will miss a connecting flight, get sick, or otherwise fail to make the gate. Lots of times this is true and the money United gives out to compensate travelers for voluntarily bumping themselves to a later flight is less than the money United takes in by selling the same seat twice. Occasionally, however, the fact that United sold the same seat to two or more different people creates an awkward problem for them. No volunteers? Well, for failing to aid United in committing fraud by selling a product that does not, in fact, exist, you can be dragged off the plane by police officers, beaten, and seriously injured.

Yep. That’s bad.

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And now, the research…

So believe it or not, there are people for whom the detailed analyses of articulate, accomplished cultural critics are insufficient. For these folks, even when a well-reasoned argument is presented in an engaging, accessible manner, such as on youtube, questions can occasionally remain if the conclusion of the critic is that sexism may very well be present in video games. Moreover, some will maintain, even if some eensy, weensy bit of sexism did – entirely by accident – creep into one of their favorite video games, such artistic sexism has no impact on the real world. It’s just a game! Just make believe! Just art! Why can’t you let it go?

Well, for those people who absolutely must have the peer reviewed research, one man at Iowa State University did not let it go, and his findings will amaze you all – number 6 even surprised Pervert Justice!

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Keep It Up, Assholes

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Just a shout out to Jessica Valenti for this wonderful (though three years old) response to Twits:

To People on Twitter calling me a whore:

Being called a ‘slut’ as a young person is part of the reason I became an activist. So keep it up, assholes: every time you call a girl a whore, a feminist gets her wings.

Of course, that only happens if a wing producing-allele is present in a girl’s local population, so let’s keep spreading feathery, free-flying thoughts, shall we?