Thursday, 5 December 2013

Microsoft - I love you. But please do better.

So, I haven't had the Internet for a while, been very busy, and am currently ill. I am therefore a little behind on this piece of news and will be writing this as a blog post rather than making a video (I also look awful but cannot go for a shower - or film anything anyway - as there are 2 plumbers loudly installing a new hot water tank 2 days after they said they would - exciting!).

Anyway, here goes.

WHY, MICROSOFT?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?

I was scanning the web to catch up on some tech gossip & I stumbled across this little news story about the Xbox One.

This is supposed to be a funny, interactive and engaging piece of marketing to help potential buyers encourage their partners to "let" them buy the system together, but to me it comes across as a cringeworthy, dull and enraging piece of marketing. It's basically a letter pleading for men to plead with their girlfriends/wives to get the "amazing" new Xbox One. Here is the default letter, which allows you to change certain parts to make the letter applicable to you and your partner...:

The problem is, this "letter" comes across as a man calmly & pathetically pleading for permission to buy a new toy from his possibly-angry-and-game-hating girlfriend, rather than a funny tongue-in-cheek ad with reasonable arguments as to why a household should invest in an Xbox One. MS have since made changes to the text, which suggests that it wasn't as totally non-offensive as they had hoped it was. For example, you can now prefer to do taxes over gaming, instead of knitting. 

I do not enjoy doing taxes and I HAVE NO IDEA HOW TO KNIT. I can however do pretty damn well in Assassin's Creed Multiplayer. 

Also, another small thing: in your big Xbox One TV spots, I have only seen ONE woman using the system, and she was watching Netflix. Not gaming. 

There is a guy in an important office meeting who gets invited to ride in a giant robot, a guy in a football stadium is invited to take a free kick, a guy driving down a highway is invited to drive a fancy sports car, a guy studying in a library gets invited to go shoot some zombies, a guy in a suit relaxing outside a fancy cafe with some papers (can't tell if newspaper or letters) gets invited to be a roman soldier.

The woman? Stopped whilst standing around at a train station (not doing anything in particular, just standing there reading a book whilst waiting for a train) by the new pretty Spock, invited to watch him be a badass in space. He's so pretty she drops her book when she first sees him. No, it's not in shock at him suddenly appearing out of thin air, she has her back turned the whole time when that happens, she just turns round & sees him there with a phaser & pretty pointy ears, gesturing her to follow him - watch him, though, not join in on the action. Just watch.

OMG, it's SPOCK. *fangirls & drops book*

Basically, all the gamers are men, doing things, and there is ONE WOMAN in the whole advert who just stands about reading what looks like a novel then WATCHES A MOVIE WITH A PRETTY MAN IN IT BEING A HERO. Honestly, I wouldn't mind this depiction of a woman it's really not the worst - but it's the ONLY ONE.

Wanna know something MS? I encouraged my boyfriend to get an Xbox 360 instead of a PS3 so we could play online together. I, a female, got a guy to buy one of your gaming systems. I actively created a sale for you. I also talk about games available on your consoles, including exclusive ones, on my channel - it's only small, but people have told me that they've made one or two purchases based on my recommendations. I have also played your system since 2009, and played games on MS PC systems since I was a small child. I LOVE your systems. Please let me know that the people creating those systems also love me and value me as a customer. Get some more girls and women gaming in your marketing, pretty please!

(Although, just gonna say, the Xbox one announcement got really uncomfortable when that guy from the Killer Instinct team said the words "Relax, just let it happen, it'll be over soon" and "wow, you like this" whilst virtually beating up a woman. No. Nooooo. Nonono. Plz no. Never do that again. Plz.)

It just gets very frustrating when you don't feel represented by a company you have supported for many years. I really hope this changes soon.


A frustrated Xbox 360 owner xx

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Dear Amazing Atheist (on Rape Culture)

Dear Amazing Atheist,

Someone on my Twitter pointed me to your recent videos about rape culture and rape, and wanted to know what I thought of them. I was a bit wary, as I (being honest) am not a fan of some of your previous videos. You, like me, are an opinionated person and I don't always share the same opinions as you on things, so I went in feeling slightly defensive. However, you calmly explained your feelings on the matter - thank you for that. It also meant I watched both videos in full (if anyone wants to watch them, they are here and here - set aside some time as they are about 25 mins each).

You asked for responses from people for your first video, as you said you were very willing to listen to different viewpoints, so here I am. There are a few things from your video I'd like to mention. Apologies in advance if I'm totally wrong on any of it (stats wise, assuming your feelings on matters, etc.) and I hope I don't come across as rude, patronising or condescending at any point. It's very difficult to convey tone in text & I was actually planning to maybe make this a video, but I am a bit strapped for time at the moment, so I have had to just tweak my original script.

"No Rape Culture"

I am a noob to the saying "rape culture", and I have not seen it thrown around lightly. 

From my small understanding, rape culture is called "culture" because there's a big enough and influential enough group of people that do various things & hold various opinions (like some in the definition you found) in society to stop the massive problem of rape and sexual assault from being properly dealt with, thus it prevails. Rape culture is all the social stuff that allows rape to keep happening and allows rapists to constantly get away with this crap. 

Even though it is linked to our general culture, not everyone is a part of rape culture and it does not describe our society as a whole - we just have one within our society & it affects a lot of people in it. America has a gun culture - does that mean everyone in America likes and has guns & knows everything about it? No. But a lot of people who aren't a part of gun culture are affected by it. In western society there are war cultures, drinking cultures, party cultures... Does that mean we like & understand why people like all those things, or that everyone knows about them? No. But, just because we are not a part of those cultures or they are not obvious to us, doesn't mean they're not there or that we're not surrounded by them and/or directly affected by them.

In your second video you got upset about the Stubenville case not getting to light without the internet, despite masses of evidence - certain people in law enforcement trying to sweep stuff under the rug to save the boys, rather than punish the crime? You're upset at rape culture. You're upset at people hoping bad guys in prison get raped because they know & revel in the fact that that happens? You're upset at rape culture. You're upset at people using power structures like those in the army to rape someone just because they want to/can? You're upset at rape culture.

Also, lots of people argue over what rape culture is, but I think it's because it naturally varies greatly between different places; for example, rape culture for women in America is asking things like "well, what was she wearing?", but in other places it can also escalate to forcing them to marry their rapists or stoning them to death for being "impure".

"Different levels of rape"

You used two examples to try and say that there are "different levels of rape" in the same way that there are different levels of killing such as pre-meditated and accidental. The "stranger jumping out of a bush = on-purpose killing, the boyfriend ignoring his girlfriend saying no = accidental killing.

Here's where that analogy falls to pieces: the girlfriend said no. If she said no, then they boyfriend KNOWINGLY had sex without her consent. Being in a relationship with someone doesn't mean you are entitled to have sex with them whenever you want, whether they want to or not - I'm sure (or at least hope) you realise this. 

The boyfriend in this hypothetical situation, did not do this by accident. She said no and he actively ignored her. He abused the girlfriend's trust and took advantage of her. She trusted him enough to be alone with him, and he raped her. That is f**ked up.

To me, and many others, that's not "less bad" than being raped by a stranger, that's just a different kind of f**ked up.

Also, even if a guy "accidentally" rapes a girl because he "forgot" to check if she was ok with it, that's also still f**ked up, because he didn't stop to think "is she into this?"; instead he completely ignored her agency and worth as a human and just selfishly focused on his own sexual desires. You didn't make this argument, but it is one I've seen online a couple of times & I wanted to address it...

"Everyone is different"

I completely agree - everyone has different comfort zones & limitations, gives off slightly different signals... However, I've popped this one in because it's so effing easy to double-check that someone is ok with having sex. You don't have to ruin the mood - you can ask it in a sexy way, e.g. "do you like it when I do this?", and make sure you get a truly positive response. Normal people can also read body language to make sure someone is enjoying it.

Everyone is different, and yes, some people may say "no" when they mean "yes", but even then, it's effing obvious what they mean & it's really not hard just to ask flat-out "are you ok with this?" Again, there are ways to ask sexily without ruining the mood (e.g. "are you ok with this? Be honest with me, because you're effing gorgeous and I want you right now, but I want you to really enjoy it" *insert sexy smouldering look*).

As you said, there are a lot of people that can't read people properly, and that's why a lot of people want people to be educated about consent. That's one of the things they mean when they say "teach people not to rape" - teach people that instead of just looking for "ok" or a mumbled, scared & unhappy "yes", they should look for enthusiasm, which is pretty easy to spot and easy to ask about.

"That's what lawyers are paid to do"

Just because a lawyer is paid by their client to discredit a victim, it doesn't mean that what they're doing isn't morally reprehensible. Why do you think everyone makes bitchy jokes and comments about lawyers? The justice system should be about justice & getting to the truth, not getting paid to spin blame onto victims, even when rape did obviously occur. Burglars don't get let off if the victims left a window open and were therefore "asking for it"; rape is far worse, so why do lawyers say victims were "asking for it" by their behaviour or clothes (which often is just something like "wearing a skirt" and "being friendly")? They grasp at straws such as clothes and approachability, then as soon as one guy is let off because of it, this part of rape culture seeps into our everyday lives.

You see, this stuff doesn't stay inside courtrooms. This "asking for it" idea is in a lot of people's heads, especially when alcohol is involved - when lots of people ask "why did they take advantage of a drunk person", there can be just as many asking "well why did the other person think it was ok to get so drunk around other people?" Just look at any comments section on Stubenville & Maryville news pieces.

The questions directed at female victims also affect women in general: we feel like we have to police our own clothing to fit within certain standards in case something should happen to us, because, even though there is no correlation between a particular kind of clothing and being raped, we don't want to get the finger of blame pointed at us if something does happen. Women are told all the time that that have to look good, but they can't look too good, because then they're "asking for it".

For example, when I was 13, some boy followed me down the street and grabbed my arse. When I whacked his hand away and said "don't touch me", he said, "Well you shouldn't have worn that skirt" (it was my school uniform).

This sh*t does not stay in the courtroom. People eat that crap up and use it to try & justify their harassment of other people. That is part of rape culture.

"Three options"

You said everyone has three options in cases with little-to-no evidence except each person's story: always say you don't know, always side with the accused, always side with the accuser. I think a hell of a lot of people switch between saying they don't know and choosing a side, often just by how each side looks / comes across. Also, although I try to be unbiased, sadly, according to studies, if you always side with the victim you seem to be statistically more likely to be choosing the truthful side...(see next point).

"Being falsely accused of rape ruins your life"

Yes, I'm sure it does, and I think it's awful and horrific. It's a good thing then that false accusations of rape are actually so incredibly rare. It is statistically far more likely for a woman to be raped, take the guy to court & lose the case, then likely have her life ruined by being accused of making a false claim because she's just a slut that was ashamed of sleeping with that guy who is totally innocent because the justice system in every country is perfect & no one guilty goes free blah blah blah I want to scream...

Also, the majority of women who make false rape claims don't actually properly describe or name a perpetrator - that's a big sign to the police that the claim is fake. The woman wants sympathy & she won't get it if the person she falsely accuses calls her a liar & she's proved false. Also, with so many people crying "false claims!", actual rape victims get very little sympathy for pointing the finger.

I can't stand when women make false accusations of rape against men; not only does a man's life get ruined, but so many people cling onto those few examples to shout down the thousands and thousands of women who have genuine claims. This is one massive reason why the majority of women do not report their rapes.

"I was sexually assaulted - it is harder for male victims to be taken seriously"

Not disagreeing with you in the slightest here, especially for the first part. The woman that sexually assaulted you in the workplace is an arsehole. A grade A arsehole. As for the people who decided to make fun of you and call you "gay" for not immediately reciprocating her advances, they're arseholes too. And I think I know why they didn't sympathise with you.

You have likely heard of the word "patriarchy" - now, it doesn't refer to some secret male society or some "conspiracy theory that blames all men, even decent men, for all women's woes". All it roughly means is that, in general, men are in the majority of power positions of businesses, relationships, etc. and fit in with other set definitions of masculinity. It also means that men are expected to want to be in power positions and fit in with other set definitions of masculinity (i.e. fit their gender role)In many societies, masculinity often means that men must automatically like any sexual approach from a female because "what guy doesn't wanna have sex, amiright?". If you don't like it or reciprocate, then there must be something "different" about you. People take you being upset at assault and try to insult you by saying it's strange you turned them down, so you're weird, un-masculine (i.e. feminine or effeminate) & they make jokes about you being gay (which is also extremely homophobic).

You got crap because of the restricting gender roles that many feminists are trying to change, for both sexes (yes, not all feminists spell this out or believe it, but it's true for most from what I've seen and heard). You shouldn't have to "man up", "deal with it like a man", automatically enjoy her advances because you're a heterosexual man, or not allow yourself to recognise that you were the victim in this situation. You are allowed to be pissed off with her invading your personal space, especially for taking advantage of you at work, where often people can't feel like they can shout back for fear of losing their job. That woman should get the sack if she hasn't already got it.

I also know that there are tonnes of women who know exactly how you feel. There are lots of awful cases, like this one, of sexual harassment, assault & sexism in general against women in the work place. Also, many women, including myself, have been sexually assaulted or harassed, only for our attackers & their friends (& a few others) to call us lesbians for not responding positively to their "compliments". We are made to feel weird, rude or unladylike for telling a guy to stop touching us or to get out of our personal space. It happens in clubs, in the street, in workplaces... Fortunately it has become easier for women to report this stuff, but you hear so many stories that suggest that a lot of harassment towards women still gets swept under the carpet. 

Basically, thanks to rape culture, women are supposed to "deal with it because that's just what happens to women", "ignore it", realise they were "asking for it" or "take the compliment"; men are supposed to "enjoy it". Truthfully, we cannot say exactly who has it "worse off" when it comes to reporting assault (men do have an extra barrier of "you should like it"/"you could've easily pushed them off you"), but it needs to be made easier for everyone; currently, women are far more likely to be a victim of some form of sexual assault & it is highly likely that their assaulter will get away with it, whilst men are often afraid to report the crime & feel like they won't be taken seriously (or helped at all), especially if in prison or assaulted by a woman. 

Rape culture doesn't just refer to assaults on women, because it affects both genders - It just ends up focusing on that because sadly women are the ones most affected by it, therefore those that fight for women's rights (i.e. mostly female feminists) are the ones doing a lot of the work on researching & exposing it. Not all feminists are crazy man-hating bra-burners - that's just a very vocal minority. Most are just people that see the gender roles that restrict everyone (especially women), and the idea that anything feminine = bad (i.e. you not being allowed to feel like a victim by your colleagues, because that's not 'masculine'), as stupid ideas; rape culture feeds off those ideas, causing both sexes to suffer.

I appreciate your calmness in your videos, and I understand your anger at what happened to you - I really do & I especially sympathise with you for it happening in the workplace. You must've felt very trapped.

I hope you will take the time to read this and consider my opinions. If so, thanks! This was a long post... Your second video definitely emphasised how much you hate this crime & I think it's great you addressed those issues, even though I have a slightly different viewpoint on some things you said.

Also, in regard to the "well why aren't I as upset by people being killed?" question, this video by Jim Sterling regarding rape & killing in video games which may give you an answer. I also once saw written down that "Rape is a kind of torture" - it sounds harsh, but I'm sure a lot of rape victims will relate to those words.

Kind regards,


P.S. I hope you don't mind open letters - everyone's complaining about them in the UK because of some recent examples, but I like them... It's more like I'm talking face to face with you as a person rather than criticising you like you were a book or study or something...

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

"Motorboating Girls for Breast Cancer Awareness"

"Does anyone else still find this vaguely disconcerting? Like an idea that probably started with the phrase, "You know how I bet we could smash our faces into a lot of tits?""
"Yes but this "campaign" magically turns inappropriate behavior into appropriate behavior. Oh and if you do find it inappropriate? You're just hating on good intentions and not, say, the right for some guys to use this as an excuse to be pervy."

Dear Simple Pickup – I stumbled across your “motorboating girls for breast cancer awareness” video.

Firstly, I just want to state a few things:
  • It’s great that you wanted to give money to charity. 
  • It's great to bring attention to the problem of breast cancer.
  • I, unlike some of your viewers & critics, do not think that the women who took part are "sluts". As much as I dislike the video, I’m not annoyed at them for doing something that they probably only did because they were told it was for charity.
  • I almost didn’t want to make this video for fear I’d just get hate from your fans like anyone else that said they didn’t like your video and got comments like “fuck u. get a life. or eat a dick...”
However, I felt I had to fully explain to you these reasons as to why I, and many others, had problems with it and maybe why the charity you gave to actually chose to reject the money.
  1. I don't think women who have had their breasts removed to fight their cancer would appreciate a breast cancer awareness video that is all about how "amazing" boobs are or that the video starts "let's go save come boobies". It's tongue in cheek (or, more correctly, tongue in tit) but, come on... How about "let's go save some ladies" instead?
  2. Many don't see it as charitable because it's not very altruistic. Altruistic giving is giving purely out of concern for others, without wanting anything in return: it's definitely not saying "I will give $20 to charity IF I get to put MY face in YOUR tits". Also, you were NOT "raising money" as many defenders said you were: technically, you were holding back money you already had until you got to touch the boobs of women who would likely need treatment in their future. Doesn't sound as nice when I put that way, does it?
  3. You basically used breast cancer as a reason to touch women's boobs. If anyone disagrees, let me just ask, do you think these guys would make a video rubbing their faces in guys' arses for prostate cancer awareness, or rubbing their faces in guy's crotches for testicular cancer awareness? Hmm? Plus, they seem to be just approaching attractive young women. The fact is, 8/10 women that get breast cancer are actually over 50. Why weren't you also approaching older women more at risk of breast cancer? Probably because they’re not sexy young ladies that viewers can perv on & you enjoy touching. Yaay, using “cancer awareness” to further sexualise young women.
  4. Speaking of awareness, I dunno about other viewers, but whilst you mentioned breast cancer (emphaisis on breast) this video taught me nothing about it. Neither did it address the fact that men also get breast cancer – you guys have breast tissue too. I personally think that you could’ve explained to your viewers that out of all the women you approach in all your videos 1 in 8 of them could get breast cancer.  Or that 1 out of every 1000 of your male viewers could get it too. Just saying breast cancer exists doesn't do much to spread awareness of it when people already know that it exists. Perhaps add some real information so that your viewers become more aware about breast cancer, rather than just more aware of breasts.
  5. We haven't seen footage of how you asked women or when a woman said "no". Did you go "oh come on... Let us do it, it's for charityyyyy. Please?! Don’t be a spoilsport!" or did you go "ok! No problem, have a nice day!"? People just want to be sure none of the women were pressured into it. We can’t just trust the happy plinky plonky music. 

I'm sorry for sounding like I’m trying to spoil your fun - there's nothing wrong with trying to help charity with a “fun” video that could easily go viral, but your video just left a bad taste in my mouth (and probably yours if those women hadn't had a shower for a while). In truth it's probably because my parents have lost friends to breast cancer and, more recently, two friends of mine lost their mum.

I did not like thinking that you were using the cancer that cut her life, and so many others, short as an excuse to motorboat random young women on Venice Beach. 

I can’t fully explain everything and to show how much your viewers are learning about Breast Cancer, let me read out some of the comments from them left on the video:


Thanks for spreading the awareness, dudes.


This is the script I used for my video. It is good to say this stuff, but sometimes people don't listen until they read it themselves in black & white. 

Also, I am fed up of people who have reasonable and justifiable criticisms being labelled as "HATERS", because people refuse to sit and listen to them. Yes, sometimes people over-react, but sometimes the people they're criticising need to sit back and listen. Simple Pickup, take time to look at the root cause of the outrage (your video), rather than just get angry at the outrage itself.

Here's a good response (which, of course, has been marked as spam by your viewers)

Also, I didn't actually see/hear anyone who complained say that the charity should reject the money. The charity could've taken it, with a stern warning about how people could find your video inappropriate, sexualising, that is objectifies women, etc.. But instead they chose the harsher route. Why? Because really, $7000 isn't that much to risk sending the wrong message or risk copycats using your idea to touch women (but perhaps lying about the charity). They appreciate every penny given, yes, but they can't afford to look like they're promoting the idea of men going out and touching up women for charity, especially when they can get FAR more money elsewhere from other people who put in WAY more effort than you did.

Sorry to rant at you, I just studied a lot about charity & altruism at uni, plus my sister actually works for a charity. Donations to charity are not payments to avoid criticism, so please stop going "but it was for charity!" to try and shut people up. People who are pissed off with you are pissed off with your video and the way you chose to "fundraise"; they are NOT trying to deprive a charity of money.

Get your heads out of your arses and bloody listen.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Girls getting blind drunk at parties

Ok, so Steubenville happened, and now another case has come up from Maryville where a 14 year old girl had been drinking, was raped by an older guy aged 17 (there is evidence and confessions) yet the girl and her family have been run out of town, and their old home (still owned by her mother) mysteriously burnt down. Oh, and her 13 year old friend was also raped by another boy who also filmed the other rape. However, the prosecutor said there "wasn't enough evidence" and decided to not take it to court because of...reasons. Maybe it was really because one of the accused is the grandson of a "prominent former Missouri state representative". A Republican one (we all know how much they like the ladies and their rights!).

Anyway, in these cases, you always hear a few people going "well WHY were they drinking so heavily in the first place?!" Not in a concerned way, but in a "well if they weren't drunk, they wouldn't have gotten raped" way. In a victim-blaming way.

So why do these young girls drink so much at parties, especially with older guys? Let's see:

  • They want to impress - in a lot of teenagers' minds, drinking = acting like an adult, because only adults are legally allowed to drink. 
  • They want to look cool - drinking underage = rebelling/messing about = cool. Also, most older kids are often automatically seen as cooler, so hanging out with the older kids = you become cool by association. Cool = life is easier/don't get bullied.
  • They are constantly told that drinking is the best way to have fun and parties without alcohol are laaaame - just look at films/adverts/tv. I looked into alcohol adverts as part of my degree and the majority of them equate drinking with having fun. Alcohol is highly glamorised.
  • Peer pressure - basically everyone who conforms to the above ideas forcing them on others.
And to those of you wondering why their parents "let" them drink: they didn't, they were teenagers sneaking around. Also, I can be harsh on parents sometimes, but these kids were teenagers who need a little independence and trust from parents. Also, the mum of one of the victims (in whose house the girls were originally staying), was ASLEEP. Yeah, those stupid, unconscious, lazy parents....

And to others wondering why these girls were "stupid" enough to get drunk around boys: NOT EVERY GUY IS A POTENTIAL RAPIST. I reckon most guys wouldn't encourage young girls to get blackout-drunk. I also reckon most guys would help a drunk girl get home instead of rape her & leave her to freeze on her front lawn.

I don't drink huge amounts (especially on nights out) because of these reasons:
  • I want to remember the night
  • I don't want to lose any of my stuff (keys, purse, phone, etc.)
  • I don't want some creep trying to take advantage of me
HOWEVER, if I am at a party with friends & was surrounded by people I trusted, I would assume that I could trust them enough to make sure I was ok if I ended up drinking a little too much.

I would advise fellow ladies not to get blind-drunk, but to be honest, women & girls who drink a lot and then are sexually assaulted should not be told "well you shouldn't have drunk so much"; they are not to blame for their rapes, the rapist taking advantage of them is. I also don't think kids should be drinking that amount at that age, but no one deserves to be raped because they were naive teens who made a couple of stupid mistakes.

The only thing they are guilty of is trusting someone who took advantage of that trust & turned out to be a rapist, & those guys don't tend to go around wearing "I'm a rapist" t-shirts.

Sorry for the slightly serious/sad topic. I just saw the articles & had to get this off my chest. Just to let you know, I also have a Tumblr now and I do shorter, more frequent (& usually more light-hearted) posts on there. Please do go follow me on there if you have one too!

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Badass "third world" feminist spells it out for ignorant idiot.

Yes. I'm talking about feminism again. YAAAAY!

Ok, so I stumbled across this old(ish) article about how a woman's photo was stolen and turned into a meme, at her expense. She is a lady of larger build and in the photo she is holding a poster that says "This is what a feminist looks like". Yeah, the arseholes had a field day - lots of fat-shaming, feminist-hating and stupid "hahahahahaha VIRGIN" lines. Classy, guys. Classy.

Anyway, this lady, Kelly Martin Broderick, decided that she wasn't going to take this lying down. She tried to have the photo taken down, but Facebook said it didn't violate her privacy, so it wouldn't remove it. So she decided to write that article & tell the whole story, showing how rude these people were being. In it, she posted up another photo from the set hers was taken from, which was actually part of a project to show how diverse feminists were, and she encouraged other feminists to share their photos too. Basically, she wanted to break the stereotype that those idiots were using her picture to try & cement (all feminists are fat women, who must also be virgins, who should be openly mocked for being feminists) and show that feminists come in all shapes, sizes, races and genders.

See? Lots of different people!

Now, I'm a sucker for going down to comment sections - having a YouTube channel, I'm so used to going down and reading through comments that it's just something I do now. I enjoy seeing good conversations, interesting questions and stories, and also pull my hair out at some of the self-righteous, ignorant drivel that people often like to spout.

There of course was an idiot in the comments section. And here he is:
Andrew Adkins: "The abused and oppressed women of the third world will rise up and thank you for your great strides and tremendous efforts to correct this atrocious injustice that will ripple through the sands of time as a momentous and paramount example of the terror that women must experience every day in the United Sates of America." 289 upvotes, 133 downvotes as of writing.
(I think there would probably be more downvotes on that one if people didn't have to create an account to do so...)

This is something that idiots have said to me when I have mentioned problems women have to deal with. On my video of street harassment, someone said I shouldn't be complaining about being leered at, groped and followed down the street, because women in other countries have it worse. Firstly, just because someone has a worse problem than you, doesn't make your problem any less legitimate - just smaller and maybe easier to deal with. To quote the beautifully eloquent Neacfy
"Yeah, it could be worse, but this is a struggle for equality; just because there are women out there who are lower down the equality ladder, it doesn't change the fact that even in our supposedly "enlightened" culture, the scales are still unbalanced." - Neacfy (seriously go watch his videos)
The comment in question from my "Street Harassment DOES Suck" video, & my reply.

They word it as if you don't bloody realise that other people have problems, that they think anyone who complains about sexism is automatically self-centred & ignorant, only showing concern for people in the same western society as yourself. Well, newsflash - a lot of us realise that women elsewhere go through waaaaay more crap, and we try to show solidarity for them too by raising awareness of their problems. However, we try not to always speak on their behalf (like Andrew did), as to do so would be EXTREMELY patronising, especially since we could easily be ignorant of what they actually think and what they truly have to deal with.

So I was extremely happy when I saw that a woman named Sarah, actually from a "third world" (as Andrew put it) country, had decided to reply to Andrew's little "speech"...
Sarah: "@Andrew Adkins. As a third world woman, I'd like you to thank you for doing the man thing and talking on my behalf. It is extremely helpful to dismiss someone standing up for anti-feminist bullying with the "others have it worse" excuse.
You mock the ripples? Here's my third world view of this. If feminists in the first world are being bullied and shamed out of being feminists, the following will happen:
  • Fewer women in the first world will dare be feminists, because they don't want to run the risk of being ridiculed.
  • Therefore, fewer people will be concerned with what happens to 3rd world women like me, because they wouldn't want to be labled as "feminists" and be shamed
  • Women in third world countries will hear/see this ridicule, and will feel helpless as they will feel no one will find their suffering worth fighting for. (Except now, we will see that it is)
  • To a lot of women in third world countries, what happened to Kelly is EXACTLY what their fathers and brothers tell them, to deter them from joining feminist groups. "look what happened to this woman, and she's in AMERICA. Imagine what they'll do to you here. They'll humiliate you."
Because believe it or not, even in third world countries, publicly shaming someone is scarier than beating them.
So as an oppressed woman of a third world country, I would like to kindly ask you to quit the pity fest and not talk on my behalf. What Kelly did in response to stealing her picture is more helpful to me than you realize.
Bullying those who stand up for my rights is not okay no matter where it happens in the world.
@Kelly: Thank you." - 955 upvotes, 11 downvotes as of writing.

No, Sarah - thank YOU. Thank you for explaining something so simple, that these idiots don't seem to understand. There IS a ripple effect. Once there is success/progress in one place, others will follow; once there is failure/mockery in one place, others will avoid it. Also, nicely done, calling out the 21 yr old white boy from Arkansas (pro tip - if you're gonna be a judgemental, ignorant douche, don't comment via Facebook) who thought he knew how all women in countries thousands of miles away from him would feel about this.

See, this is why I risk the comment section - you just might find an absolute gem like this.

Edit: since first publication, I have added in quotation marks around "third world" in the title, because I wanted to clarify that I was quoting Sarah, who was quoting Andrew in his use of the term. I know that some dislike the term, and I was not using it from my own vocabulary. Ta!

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

TomSka, I AM an angry feminist

So, TomSka wrote a blog on his Tumblr about his journey with feminism, from "MEN HAVE PROBLEMS TOO!" arguer to "oh crap, sorry I was all defensive and thanks for calling me out on it". It's a good post and I recommend you read it.

Within it, he said how he wanted to make a video about feminism and how close my video got to the particular type of thing he wanted for his young, largely-male audience. However, he did have some criticism, which I found fair, but I also want to clarify a couple of things spoken about in this bit:

"Although when it comes to making my own video I’ll probably try to avoid slating “radical feminism” as much as Ellen does because it’s extremely hard to quantify what is radicalism and what is justifiable frustration. In the same way people are often quick to brush off valid criticism as “hate” I reckon there are plenty of folk ready to write-off an angry feminist as a “man hater.” That being said, it’s also important to note that sometimes people are just crazy and that there are assholes on every side of every argument."

I don't think that feminists aren't allowed to be angry/frustrated. I am angry/frustrated a LOT of the time. There are so many times when I want to scream into someone's face, but I usually bite my tongue (except when I put a snarky comment to highlight their sexism/stupidness/ignorance). When I express annoyance at something obviously sexist & I have someone tell me to worry about something "important", it pisses me off. When I read through the tweets on Everyday Sexism's Twitter feed, only to see replies from men going "are you sure they were even talking to you?" or "that's not sexist" or "take a damn compliment" or "well I wouldn't do that [so it must not have happened]", it pisses me off. I want to tear my hair out every time I see some ignorant idiot "mansplaining" or suggesting that women are overreacting, reading too much into stuff, being over-emotional, etc.

I have no problems with angry feminists, because I am one. I'm just a passive-aggressive, overly-British, mildly-socially-awkward one.

I was focusing on the small minority of crazy assholes/arseholes who think all men are inherently evil. In my video I spoke about my dislike of "angry, man-hating feminists" - when saying that, I specifically meant the women that hate men, the women that have become so riled-up with sexism against women that they have become sexists themselves; I was not meaning women who were just angry (who I would then assume were "man-haters"). In fact, that's one of the reasons I get annoyed at the very vocally-angry men-hating arseholes - any woman who labels herself as a feminist and is rightfully angry about something sexist is shouted down & silenced by being accused of being a sexist "man-hater". It sucks.

Feminists are allowed to angry and frustrated, else most of us would have to hand in our membership badges, but we cannot fight sexism with sexism. Feminism, to me, is a campaign for freedom and equality, and I've come across some extremist man-hating ladies that scared the crap out of me, who became one of the reasons I didn't call myself a feminist for a long time. I just couldn't relate; I wanted change for women, but, I liked most of the men I knew and didn't want to write-off the idea of maybe getting married to one one day. I also didn't understand all the women saying crap like "if women ran the world there would be no war" - I went to an all-girls school, and to that I say HAHAHAHAHAHAHA no. Every woman has a right to be angry at a lot of the crap we go through, but you can take anger at injustice too far; I don't believe you can fight fire with fire - at least not if you want a happy ending. Female feminists are more than welcome to be angry about the patriarchal systems holding many of us back, but I don't think we should mark all men as arseholes - in fact, a lot of the feminists I know are actually men.

The extremists also create double-standards of sexism that MRA groups then latch onto and go "SEEE, FEMINISM IS EEEEEVIL. They don't want equal rights, they want DOMINANCE." Urgh.

In truth, though, I am also as equally pissed off with these idiots that look at the extreme man-haters and assume that they are a fair representation of all feminists. Really? You think any woman that points out an inequality also wants to destroy all men? However, I didn't approach my video like this, because they were some of the the people I wanted to get through to and I didn't want them to just switch off. I wanted to explicitly explain to them that feminism isn't about hating men, but hating complex social systems that have separated men and women into arbitrary groups (outside of sexual reproduction functions), creating the idea of "masculine" and "feminine" traits which each group must stick to (and god forbid you go in-between, else you're a weirdo/"gaaaaayyyy"/"tranny"/other vile insults here). (Just to clarify, these are all entirely social constraints that people are free to ignore - just pointing out that those that do - and did in the past - can come under intense scrutiny and be shunned by those in society that prefer traditional gender roles. Just look at this example).

I could've gone in guns-blazing, but I decided to rationally explain my thoughts & feelings on the matter, saying "hey, I had problems with feminism too, but then I actually learnt about it". I explained that feminism is also about letting men embrace their "feminine" side, not have to shun them and "man up" all the time, and about women wanting to be treated equally in all ways, good and bad. The problem is, "man-haters" are the ONLY thing a lot of these people see about feminism; people argue that I shouldn't call myself a feminist if I like men, because liking men means I'm not a feminist, apparently. So many people think feminism is this extreme "thing" because of Internet people like TheAmazingAtheist and others only talking about the extreme groups, because, hey, what YouTuber wouldn't be angry at all that sexism and want to make a video about it? 

I wanted to show people that there are different types of feminists and different branches of feminism, and not all of them relate to each other (ideologies can be very similar to religions in that respect). I just wanted to put across the other side - the passive-aggressive side that gets lumped in with the more vocal, extreme groups because people are lazy and stereotype. As you (and Neafcy in his wonderful video) have said, women are allowed to be angry, have every right to be angry - I just think that we need to calmly explain to people why we're angry as well, because - fun fact - unless we do so, people will likely label us as: over-dramatic, over-reactionary, attention-seeking, buzz-killing, PMT-ing, over-emotional and over-sensitive.

Because, you know, we're women, and all women are hormonal messes that just need to calm the hell down. (See what I did there...? I'm a bloody comic genius.)

Anyway, thanks for the shout out and the insightful comments - I always try to be clear in my videos and it seems I didn't make it clear that I was talking about the tiny minority of feminists that actually hate men, not justifiably frustrated women. Sorry about that. It's great to see that you're not afraid to talk about stuff like this and that you're taking everyone's comments on board. It takes real maturity to admit when you were wrong about something, and I love that you want to share this stuff with your young, male viewers. Sadly, with this topic, guys won't always listen to a woman/girl, because they have an "agenda", but they might just listen to you.

Although I would suggest you brace yourself for the inevitable white-knight comments... Let's hope the rational ones drown those out.

Also, if you want to see me really angry at sexism, I suggest you watch my videos on Street Harassment and some woman telling teenage girls what to do so as not to "tempt" her innocent sons with their pyjama-covered boobies. I get a bit more shouty in those two...

Friday, 27 September 2013

Accessible Gaming - Gaming with a Disability

I recently did a video on Accessible Gaming, particularly focusing on easy modes and how they help new and less 'able' gamers to play, whilst different difficulty levels stop games becoming too easy as a whole for veteran and high-level players. WIN WIN, PEOPLE!

In it I mentioned my older sister, who has mild cerebral palsy, and I said how easy modes enable her to enjoy games she would otherwise be unable to play - because of easy modes she has been able to play games such as the recent Batman Arkham Asylum/City games, but games without easy modes have been very difficult for her to get into.

Whilst my sister is very shy & self conscious on camera (her disability gives her a slightly strained voice which means it can sometimes take more effort to get words out) (also she is ginger - LOL), she is an excellent writer & I asked if she could write something about playing games with a disability, rather than just have me speak on her behalf.

So, take it away, Emily! 

Gaming for special people. That's what I'm supposed to talk about, isn't it? I'm not really a hardcore gamer (unless you count getting to level 350 in Candy Crush Saga) but when you live in the same house as icklenellierose, it's hard not to get at least a little bit enthusiastic about these things.

I remember eagerly hijacking my first car in Grand Theft was so much fun: pulling that poor defenseless man out of his car at gunpoint, jumping in the driver's seat and IMMEDIATELY crashing into the central reservation. I took a breath, backed up to try this "driving malarkey" again...and drove straight off the flyover. This was more or less my entire experience of every GTA game I've tried. My character got sent to that ER far too many times. Chase sequences were particularly infuriating. My joints don't cooperate well under pressure, so as the drug dealer/gang warlord/general bad guy drove further and further out of sight, so my body would become more and more tense from the stress. My fingers would cramp, slip off the controller and BAM - an old lady was dead. I simply cannot take that kind of pressure....I just wanted to play a game. Murdering innocent pedestrians (by accident) soon became more than I could bear.

I've had this frustrating experience with many games. Prince of Persia was a nightmare. I couldn't even make the person move properly so had to angrily shut down the console before I'd even properly started the game. Musical games like Rockband gave me cramp like I'd never experienced before. I was actually traumatised in Red Dead Redemption when I kept accidentally herding those cows into a ravine. In the end, the story mode of that game became so inaccessible that I had to end up trotting through the mountains, stopping here and there to pick wildflowers. I'm guessing Rockstar had put ridiculous amounts of time energy and money into this game and I was GARDENING.

I guess I've had to adapt and play to my strengths. By strengths, I mainly refer to LEGO. I rule at Lego games. I think it's the way they progress: I like that you finish story mode of the first book of LOTR/Harry Potter and you're still only something like 7% of the way through the entire game. There are so many opportunities to go back, unlock more parts of the game, get achievements and smash up more stuff. The smashing up stuff is particularly enjoyable. But, I need to stress, the Lego games are not necessarily easy. Just because they're bright and colourful and the characters make these cute little noises whenever they jump, it doesn't mean I can automatically sail through them without a care.

Ellen went away for a week in August. I had the Xbox all to myself. I had two new Lego games: it was going to be a good week. I reckoned I could near enough 100% the Lord of the Rings game, give or take a few missing minikits.

Until I got stuck.

The camera angle wasn't co-operating and I just couldn't figure out how to make Legolas jump up onto the Oliphaunt (I know NOTHING about LOTR, by the way, so all these words are confusing). There was no hope of that 100% now. All those achievements seemed to be slipping away in front of my eyes. I was frustrated. But I persevered; I had a tea break and then went and played that level until my fingers went numb. And finally the little guy made that jump - his long blonde hair flowing triumphantly as he flew through the air. And I felt like I had achieved something. I hadn't - I was just playing a computer game - but it was encouraging nonetheless and it meant that I could reach the end of the game. This is why "easier" modes are so valuable to me. I'm not an expert gamer and I never will be. But games that are accessible mean I can still enjoy them and, if they're designed well, can still be challenged by them. Challenge is good. Impossibility is not.

We're sisters, honest! (at London 2012 Dressage)


Thursday, 19 September 2013

GTA, Rockstar & Misogyny

Right, so I've already said my piece on the whole "9/10" thing in a video, and please watch that below if you haven't done so already (only 4 mins!):

I got a bit angry & sweary...

Some people have said in response "a few people are more angry over the reason it was given a 9, not the score itself".

So, why did the reviewer give it a 9? She lists 2 reasons: because it was "politically muddled and profoundly misogynistic" and "character behavior is sometimes inconsistent."

Now, character behaviour being inconsistent is a big problem in a story-driven game, but, of course, most complainers overlooked that COMPLETELY and just chose to complain about the "misogynistic" comment because "NERRRR STUPID FEMINISTS ARE TRYING TO PUSH THEIR AGENDA ONTO US AND RUIN OUR GAMES!!!".

Firstly, feminists are not trying to ruin your/our games; they are trying to ENHANCE them by making them less bland and s***, something different from the games that come out of the same focus-group-tested bollocks that caused Elizabeth to be relegated to the back of the Bioshock: Infinite box, even though it was HER F**KING STORY.

Secondly, I have not had a chance to play GTA V yet, so I cannot comment on the apparent misogyny in the game, but to me it's a fair critique. Why? BECAUSE IT IS HER REVIEW OF THE GAME AND IF IT AFFECTED HER ENJOYMENT OF THE GAME THEN IT IS A FAIR CRITIQUE. 

GTA is famous for being satirical & taking the mic out of the stupider side of people (especially Americans, from a British perspective) and our society as a whole. Many people have screamed "BUT IT'S SATIRE!", but, as we all know from Alex Day's little mistake a few months ago, satire can be difficult to pull off if it looks too much like the real thing. You can also stumble into the problem, if you are as successful as Rockstar, of having large numbers of fans that don't understand the satire you're trying to convey and actually agree with the sentiments that Rockstar is perhaps trying to mock (just see Twitter the night before the game came out); that ends up not helping the cause and people end up seeing Rockstar as catering to misogynistic fans rather than trying to critique them.

Sadly, not all fans of GTA IV were happy with the hookers and wanted them to be more "attractive", so they made mods like this one to give them huge fake boobs, big bums and skinnier frames than the more realistic Rockstar models.

Basically: GTA is known for its satire, but for some reason - if the misogyny is satire - it has perhaps failed to pull it off, and that would be a big disappointment for any GTA fan. The series is known for being a critique of the world we live in, and Carolyn Petit felt that it came across more like it was in support of misogyny and it took away from her experience of a game she otherwise absolutely loved.

In response to my video, one person said, "Interesting to note that another woman from IGN rated GTA V a 10/10 and didn't let her personal and political views cloud her judgment of the game...".

I'm sorry, what?

Firstly: NOT ALL WOMEN ARE AUTOMATICALLY THE SAME. Perhaps she has different personal views or felt the gameplay made up for it? Also, why should a reviewer throw away/ignore all their own political and personal views when playing and reviewing a game??!! We are not machines that can just turn our feelings off when we play a video game, so why should reviewers do that? The way we view entertainment is always going to be affected by our own world views - it would be stupid to assume otherwise.

People also need to realise that game reviews - in fact any review of any form of entertainment - is always going to be SUBJECTIVE, NOT OBJECTIVE. People will like different things depending on their already-established tastes - you may not see a problem with the things Carolyn disliked, but now those that might feel uncomfortable with certain parts of the game know that they can expect to see and hear certain things, and they are now prepared for that if they want to play.

Also, a lot of people have said that the game has "always been misogynistic" and that it should be "expected" - but I'd like to say HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA no.

Ok, so the main playable character has never been female (I will talk a bit more about that later on), and the games are not perfect, but the main gameplay itself is not misogynistic, at least not the way I play the games...

Ok, you can go around punching 'hookers', or just women in general, but you don't have to - you can leave people alone or even punch both men and women, in swimwear or work clothes - woo equality! You can do all the 'pimp' escort missions, but you don't have to (I did it imagining I was overthrowing the evil current pimp to be a kinder boss to my lady employees, offering better guarantees of their safety and the opportunity to go to college or something if they want). You can hire a 'hooker' once just to see what all the fuss is about (not much to be honest, just a wonky car), then run her over to get your money back because you hardly have any at the moment (and no, I would obviously never do that in real life) - but you don't have to. If you hear some guy going on about how he's "looking forward to beating up some hookers in GTAV!" then he's either a) jokingly saying it because it's a bizarre part of gameplay extremely separate from reality b) only saying that because he's a noob and that's all he knows about the GTA series from the news or c) focusing on that one part of the gameplay because he has some serious social issues, especially with women.

There are, however, lots of missions and tasks where you go around killing lots of men. Like, tonnes. The criminal underworld is very 'traditional' and not the best at inclusivity, and the games reflect that. I fully expect the main characters and criminals in general to be a little misogynistic, because they seem like they would be in the extreme GTA world - manly men who go into crime to get money and, therefore, fast cars, women (because they see them as objects to be won with money), etc.

You shoot a lot of bad dudes - there haven't been many female police officers in previous games either. Some think it's lazy design for male gamers and some think it is reflecting & saying something about our society.

However, it would be bloody interesting to get the perspective of a female protagonist having to deal with all this crap. In truth, as much as I am looking forward to playing, I was a teensy bit disappointed that not one of the main protagonists was a woman. Just think of it: she's gone in for the money and the thrills, yet has to deal with a load of men telling her she's in the wrong job, not expecting much from her - then, even with all that, she rises to the top with the rest of the gang, one of whom always believed in her and the other who eventually came round to liking her, both of whom have also had to deal with hearing crap like "getting a woman to do your job then?". SO MUCH CHARACTER DYNAMICS & DEVELOPMENT!!! WOOO!!! It's not just because I'm a lady, but because I think it could just add so much to the story. 

But, if the writers have chosen 3 male characters to tell THEIR STORY, then fair enough, it's their story - as long as the characters are interesting enough for me to play as them, I have no problems whatsoever playing as a male character. At the same time, though, I do think it's fair for people to ask "why do all three characters have to be male?", especially since women can have 'masculine traits' too and other games have easily interchanged male and female characters without changing their personalities.

The annoying thing is, the Saints Row series has dealt with sex and gender so well (the male and female versions of the player are the same character, without it seeming at all weird, and you can even have a sex-change in-game) and, as a Rockstar fan, it's annoying to see the old GTA clone come out looking more progressive than the original. Sex and gender (and race too) is such a non-issue in the Saints Row world and I enjoyed playing as a lady in SR3rd. However, I understand why Rockstar doesn't have that option: the characters in this game seem to have been written very much as traditional aggressively-masculine male characters in a world with very definite gender lines, very much defined by the social gender roles of our world, just on a more extreme scale to try and point it out to the player - satirically or otherwise.

GTA Online will let you play as a female character & previous online games have done so before

However, I do think that Rockstar has the ability to write a strong female character who doesn't bitch and moan but just gets on with crap - I know so because they had Bonnie MacFarlane in Red Dead Redemption. For a lady stuck in the ol' Wild West, she just kept going and worked her arse off, and she wasn't scared to let John Marston know she fancied him (she also graciously backed off when she found out he was married). John does have to save her at one point, but she's not just another damsel in distress, as John has to save her, with helpers, from an entire gang - he also has to save his fair share of men throughout the game too and Bonnie is a very well developed character, so this is not some token 'save-the-girl' mission - it's about saving a friend. The treatment of her character in that mission by her captors is also used to show how badly many women were treated back then, no matter how strong, good and independent they were. In fact, the awful treatment of women by certain men of this period was showcased and pointed out as despicable behaviour throughout the whole game - you get actively rewarded for saving female sex-workers from arseholes trying to rape/kill them and the villains are pointed out as real sick villains with suggestions that they are rapists; this makes me think that Rockstar didn't mean for GTA V to come across as misogynistic, but to point out misogyny as they did in RDR. One of their main ladies, Bonnie, wasn't just some whinging, overly-emotional stereotype who complained about 'stupid men' all the time; she was awesome and the type of character I would love to play as. MORE PLEASE, ROCKSTAR! Thanks! ^-^

Such a badass

GTA games can easily have strong, interesting female characters - I seem to remember some pretty badass ladies in San Andreas and, with the right writer (you can do it Dan Houser! Just think outside the box!) GTA could have the next Fem Shep. In the meantime, I'm looking forward to GTA Online, where a player can have a male or female character (which is also possible in the GTA IV online multiplayer) and shoot the hell out of everyone and run over as many people of any age/sex/race/etc. as they want. The GTA universe is a pretty diverse one, and it's also pretty cool to see such a hugely successful franchise with 2 MASSIVE games that have African American men as main protagonists - ok, they're both criminals, but hey, at least they're multi-dimensional characters you actually play as rather than just more brown people you have to shoot at whilst playing yet another white American dude built like a bloody brick.

I'm also looking forward to meeting Michael's son Jimmy, and seeing just how much Rockstar is willing to take the piss out of the younger, more childish and entitled, members of its fanbase through this character... Tee hee!

Such a charming young man

Anyway, those are just some thoughts pre-game, and I shall share my thoughts once I have played it (which might take a while as I spend a lot of time just driving round listening to the awesome tunes on the radio).

I'm also very much looking forward to meeting Trevor. He looks mental. And awesome.