Feminism/Sexism and Gaming/Geek/Popular culture Catch All

MrDeVil909 wrote:

Bloo Driver: Watch the damned videos man :p they total 23 minutes, but I'll answer your questions anyway.

I plan to. I'm just sadly in a position where hiding a video is not as easy as it usually is. Apparently I should be doing other things on company time. THE NERVE.

City itself is pretty gender neutral, but the minifigs are apparently (haven't played with a City set ever) all male. And the marketing is really the issue, I don't watch American TV, but the examples of commercials she has are dominated by boys and fathers. It's possible she's cherry picked, but it would be easily debunked and challenged if she has. She also objects to the overtly feminised girly minifigs in Friends (I can't remember exactly what they are called)

Actually, the city set (and others) do have a consistent population of female figs. Or, at least, there are womanly/girly haircut props to use. There are some where the women are scarce (the old castle set) or nonexistent (the old space sets), but they're pretty rare.

And I do have a bit of a problem with the juxtaposition of the two bolded statements, because what's the desired result, here? There aren't actually "male" minifigs, it just depends on the head or hair you put on one, which makes them pretty neutral. Maybe the base minifig body is too "male"? Well, how can you make a "woman" minifig without making them... well... womanly? Or girly? I didn't find the minidolls, as she called them, grotesquely over-girly or anything, but maybe I just don't see it.

Bloo-- the simplest answer, I think, is to watch both of the videos first and then we can discuss.

Her thesis here is that The City theme is NOT gender neutral.

SommerMatt wrote:

Bloo-- the simplest answer, I think, is to watch both of the videos first and then we can discuss.

Her thesis here is that The City theme is NOT gender neutral.

I guess I'll just have to wait, then. Mostly I am always curious about how people decide for themselves where the slider lands on what is acceptably "male" or "female" and not done in an over-stereotyped or damaging way.

Bloo Driver wrote:
City itself is pretty gender neutral, but the minifigs are apparently (haven't played with a City set ever) all male. And the marketing is really the issue, I don't watch American TV, but the examples of commercials she has are dominated by boys and fathers. It's possible she's cherry picked, but it would be easily debunked and challenged if she has. She also objects to the overtly feminised girly minifigs in Friends (I can't remember exactly what they are called)

Actually, the city set (and others) do have a consistent population of female figs. Or, at least, there are womanly/girly haircut props to use. There are some where the women are scarce (the old castle set) or nonexistent (the old space sets), but they're pretty rare.

IMAGE(http://craphound.com/images/6917772865_0844f8af23_o.png.jpg)
(source)

Bloo Driver wrote:
MrDeVil909 wrote:

Bloo Driver: Watch the damned videos man :p they total 23 minutes, but I'll answer your questions anyway.

I plan to. I'm just sadly in a position where hiding a video is not as easy as it usually is. Apparently I should be doing other things on company time. THE NERVE.

City itself is pretty gender neutral, but the minifigs are apparently (haven't played with a City set ever) all male. And the marketing is really the issue, I don't watch American TV, but the examples of commercials she has are dominated by boys and fathers. It's possible she's cherry picked, but it would be easily debunked and challenged if she has. She also objects to the overtly feminised girly minifigs in Friends (I can't remember exactly what they are called)

Actually, the city set (and others) do have a consistent population of female figs. Or, at least, there are womanly/girly haircut props to use. There are some where the women are scarce (the old castle set) or nonexistent (the old space sets), but they're pretty rare.

And I do have a bit of a problem with the juxtaposition of the two bolded statements, because what's the desired result, here? There aren't actually "male" minifigs, it just depends on the head or hair you put on one, which makes them pretty neutral. Maybe the base minifig body is too "male"? Well, how can you make a "woman" minifig without making them... well... womanly? Or girly? I didn't find the minidolls, as she called them, grotesquely over-girly or anything, but maybe I just don't see it.

I think she'd prefer if all the minifigs were simply the standard model with the interchangeable hair like they've always been. It's not that the minidolls are grotesque, rather unnecessarily differentiated.

But yeah, her arguments are fairly nuanced, so as Matt says you really do need to watch the videos. I honestly can't find much to pick apart, so I'm interested to see if you find something.

Well, I don't have a lot of interest in watching her video, but I was happy to donate to her cause. I hope that she puts my money into hiring lawyers to find and prosecute some of the people making threats and sending her offensive pictures. This whole thing reminds me of the Kathy Sierra situation, which ended with her essentially withdrawing from the internet due to the nature, severity and specificity of the (mostly sexual) threats made against her. I love that this woman is not willing to just shut her mouth and get back in the kitchen, I just hope she doesn't pay for her bravery with physical harm being done to her. Harassment is bad enough, and far worse than she deserves.

Oh, yeah. I was never going to argue that the male and female heads/hair were of equal number. That would be wildly stupid. I just took exception to the idea that there were vast swaths of Legoland that were devoid of women at all.

edit: For full disclosure, I spend a great deal of time thinking about Legos. So I may be a little shy of a disinterested third party.

Sorry, I've been skimming, but it seems there's some trollistry about what happens to the money that runeth over?

Well, since I gave some of that money, I've been getting updates from the Kickstarter, and in the last one, Sarkeesian said that the success of her campaign was going to allow her to fund and work on her website, previously a passion project, full time. So, yeah, there is a "plan."

What I wonder is, if the 4chan sludge is so upset over these more worthy Kickstarters, why don't they donate to them?

SpacePPoliceman wrote:

Sorry, I've been skimming, but it seems there's some trollistry about what happens to the money that runeth over?

Well, since I gave some of that money, I've been getting updates from the Kickstarter, and in the last one, Sarkeesian said that the success of her campaign was going to allow her to fund and work on her website, previously a passion project, full time. So, yeah, there is a "plan."

Awesome. I'm sure volunteering at a women's shelter is a 'more worthy' way to contribute, but I'm glad this is working out. Good for her.

SpacePPoliceman wrote:

What I wonder is, if the 4chan sludge is so upset over these more worthy Kickstarters, why don't they donate to them?

It's like looking at a mobius strip of hypocrisy, really.

MrDeVil909 wrote:

She also objects to the overtly feminised girly minifigs in Friends (I can't remember exactly what they are called)

You know, when I was a kid, only the pirate wench minifigs had boobs! Now there are boobs everywhere!

Seriously, though, it's a little weird.

Bloo Driver wrote:

It's like looking at a mobius strip of hypocrisy, really.

Yoink.

clover wrote:
MrDeVil909 wrote:

She also objects to the overtly feminised girly minifigs in Friends (I can't remember exactly what they are called)

You know, when I was a kid, only the pirate wench minifigs had boobs! Now there are boobs everywhere!

Seriously, though, it's a little weird.

It's especially weird when they draw a narrow waist on the standard minifig body.

After some time spent thinking about it, I realize that I needlessly escalated my end of the argument, earlier. I presumed bad faith when I shouldn't have. My apologies to everyone involved, but mostly Stephen.

I watched her first set of tropes videos when I first noticed the kick starter.

It was actually a kind of difficult experience. I completely agreed with her for many things but there were some points that I felt went too far. Then I wondered if it was just her touching on my own biases. In the end I was very confused.

I considered at the time creating a thread about them.

When I watched the FemFreq videos there were definitely moments where I differed from her analysis, but that's kind of to be expected in cultural criticism. And it's healthy. I think this whole thing is such an important step in normalizing these topics so we can all have these discussions more regularly and more widely and so that there are nuanced viewpoints on all sides of this as opposed to "Here is the one widely known take on these issues." It's slow progress, but this whole thing is definitely moving us in a better direction and seems at least for the moment to be picking up speed.

It's just like the recent Lara Croft debacle - there are some people who are firmly against using rape as a plot point, some who have no problem with it and some who are somewhere in between. We don't all agree on it but at least we're having this conversation instead of just chalking up the default viewpoint to "the way things are".

Re: the LEGO vids

I was actually shocked to hear her take on it. I have never seen most of those US commercials, of course. Many of the gendered commercials were cringe-worthy, and the for-boys figures themselves never attracted my attention. I've never even seen many of the for-girls products.

It may be that in the context of these materials, many situations and figures that appear neutral to me would appear male to an American. It is here where I feel Sarkeesian's argumentation on LEGO sets fails a bit. For instance, to me, these figs are gender-neutral:

IMAGE(http://robotflagman.com/list/lego_police_hq.jpg)

IMAGE(http://kriz.dk/images/legopolice.jpg)

IMAGE(http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_NUkorrx4Tt4/SK3UMCmLDxI/AAAAAAAAAOc/nA2mZV9gJac/s400/LEGO-Police-Motorcycle.jpg)

And they are typical of the City collection in my locality. In fact, I hated the hair figs and boob figs in LEGO when they first appeared, because they implied that the majority of figs that did NOT have those features were male, not gender-neutral as I had always supposed them to be.

As for LEGO Friends, my chief objections are these:

1. There are no male figures. There should be more male figures.

2. They do not show the LEGO people engaging in the full measure of human activity that is normal in a city. Most of the College of Engineering in my locality is composed of women. Where are the women engineers? Of the 5 chairmen in the hospital where I work, 4 are women at the moment. Where are the women doctors and administrators?

The LEGO Friends line feels anomalous to me as a for-women product because it doesn't allow girls to fantasize about all the adult female role models they see, and it's not gender neutral because there aren't enough male figures. If nothing else, it encourages women to only make friends with other women; as if it were a Taliban product. It feels strange and creepy in that sense.

I was thinking about the Lego exec's commentary in the first video that girls prefer detail-oriented, role-playing play, and anecdotally I would have to agree. In elementary school I was always building the ridiculously complex mission control stations with satellite uplinks and rows of engineers at computer screens, while my best friend was in charge of building all the space ships and launch towers since he was better with the aerodynamics

(This was in the pre-boobified minifig days)

RE: What is she going to do with the money beyond the stretch goal.

She wrote an update that hasn't been mentioned here with her thoughts about that.

An absolutely astonishing 6,967 of you pledged $158,917 to support Tropes vs Women in Video Games!

Who knew running a Kickstarter campaign could be such an emotional roller coaster ride!? I am truly and sincerely honored by the outpouring of support for this project. It gives me great hope to see that so many people of all genders are concerned about the way women are represented in gaming. I'm also deeply moved by the fact that so many of you are standing with me against this staggering tidal wave of hate and harassment. After the last two weeks, I have to say, I'm pretty exhausted but so very excited about what is to come with the future of Tropes vs Women in Video Games.

The funding has wildly exceeded our initial goal and even our additional stretch goals. This has all happened so quickly and we've been super busy over here with the Kickstarter, tracking and documenting the harassment and doing media interviews. But in between all that we've been discussing some exciting ideas for how to use the additional funds to expand the project in a really meaningful way. My team and I are going to take a few days to process everything that's happened and figure out exactly what the extended scope of this project will be.

Over the past three years I've been dedicated to making Feminist Frequency videos whenever I could but its still essentially been a passionate side project between freelance jobs. This is such an exciting moment because my team and I can now commit full time to Feminist Frequency and to producing this collection of engaging, in depth and critical videos that will contribute to the ongoing conversation about women's representations in video games.

What we do know for sure is that the issue of harassment both in the gaming community and on the internet in general has sadly, become intertwined with this Kickstarter campaign so we're definitely going to include a substantial additional component to this project that will directly address the epidemic of misogynist, racist and homophobic online harassment.

Unfortunately, I'm going to have to work off the assumption that this type of backlash is going to continue throughout the project as I release each video in the series so with that in mind, I'm going to use some of the extra funds to beef up my online infrastructure by completely rebuilding and redesigning the Feminist Frequency website with security in mind.

I want to thank you all for the many fantastic ideas left in the comments of this page, I'm definitely taking them under consideration as I evolve this project and move it forward. Right now, my team and I are going to take a minute to catch our breath and regroup but we'll post an update very soon with more details about the future direction of Tropes vs Women.

Thank you all again for your continued support and encouragement!

ps. I haven't been able to play any video games since this all started, so if you'll excuse me I now have to go meet a mysterious black cat and learn how to manipulate gravity.

Just wanted to point this out. No details are given or accounting breakdown but she never promised one before I donated.

clover:

If the LEGO President really believed that, then a for-girls Police Station would have different uniforms for motorcycle cops, beat cops, detectives, and have an office for the Chief of Police! They'd also have more office space and a lab for forensics.

LarryC wrote:

clover:

If the LEGO President really believed that, then a for-girls Police Station would have different uniforms for motorcycle cops, beat cops, detectives, and have an office for the Chief of Police! They'd also have more office space and a lab for forensics.

Forensics lab would have been the best kit ever. My favorite sets were the airport with the flight monitors and working baggage chute, and the (insanely expensive, much begged-for) monorail you could put people in.

LarryC:

Not sure where you got those pictures from, but those Police sets (especially the first one) were around since *I* was a kid in the lat 70s or early 80s! They definitely do not represent the current state of Lego in 2012.

I googled them. We got the 30 fig set (or something) a few years ago and the figs we got in there were like that, with some notably booby or hairy exceptions.

I've been more into the Creator sets lately. The tie-in products don't feel like they're true to the spirit of LEGO's build-and-create central play aesthetic. Model 7235 (the motorcycle cop) is an active modern product in the current Police LEGO City product line. Most of the figs in the current Police lineup appear gender neutral, though the criminals can be obviously male with facial hair and such. I don't like that development, but that's a reverse boob - it implies that all the figs without facial hair are female (which would include a fairly substantial majority of the current Police force).

I think you can poke with some success at the arguments concerning whether certain figs/playsets are gendered (like the police one), but I don't think there is any alternative conclusion one could draw from those TV ads. The interesting issue to me is not really about the entirety of the sets they make, but which ones they push the hardest and how they choose to push them. If I recall, those Lego videos actually mention the Creator sets specifically as a good example of how to do Lego that has sadly been de-emphasized in the American marketing.

As for the Kickstarter thing, it seems incredibly damn easy to blow $125,000 producing videos. $6k is below a shoestring budget for that kind of work. The extra money could permit travel/interviews, multiple cameras, better lighting, better editing hardware and software, technical staff, etc, etc, etc. It's not some ungodly sum of money that could never in a million years be spent.

Didn't Firefly burn through like a million dollars an episode? It's very easy to spend money making video.

I'm pretty sure the videos she's going to make won't need quite the same budget Firefly did.

I wouldn't mind her using some of the excess money to track down and expose some of the people that went beyond the (sadly) usual insults and made threats.

4xis.black:

Fortunately, I've never seen those ads, and will never subject my children to them. As far as I'm concerned, figures that don't have unambiguous secondary sexual characteristics can be any gender. What's happening in the American marketplace is deplorable.

Yeah, she does specifically mention Creator as not only a gender neutral label, but more in keeping with the creative spirit of Lego than the other collections.

Okay so watching the videos, here are some things that pop into my head:

- Yes, you've already mentioned that pastel-washing the Lego Friends sets is gender coddling. There's no need to then focus again on the fact the tools in a workshop are purple in an attempt to dismiss that, as well. The workshop you're so quickly attempting to invalidate goes a long way towards hurting your premise that this is a set that reinforces gender roles. So trying to be so dismissive is a bit telling, here.

- The "gender colors are reversed at the turn of the century" thing is one of those amazing scraps of non-information I love to see pop up from time to time. If we're talking about strictly American culture, around the 1900s this was actually a short fad inasmuch that there were "assigned" colors for boys and girls at all. It went back and forth, and for a period it was pink for boys, and then it was pink for girls. If we're talking about worldwide historically, this is random and subjective based on time and culture. So while the argument can be made that color/gender identification is bad, trying to get a "hah! bet you didn't know that!" in there with this bit of knowledge is... useless in this context. Is she saying it would somehow be more legit if everything was baby blue? Or hunter green? She mentioned that the problem is that it's a narrow, gender-biased slice of the color wheel, which I get. But I hate when people try to make both sides of an argument in an attempt to just cover bases rather than take a position.

- This further weakens her previous position that the main Lego City sets are somehow male dominated. If gender is a construct and the colors and activities don't actually matter... the question remains as what is wrong with giving your girl Lego City?

- Seriously do not make fun of Paradisa as some sort of gender pandering. It was a goddamned resort. Of course it has bright pastel colors and nothing but leisure activities. If you want to present this as some sort of overall issue, fine, but the short summary of it and cherry picking some reasons why it's obviously so insulting to girls is pretty shallow.

- Yes. Clickits was... horrible. But to be fair, we also thought Saved By the Bell was pretty awesome back then. We all made bad choices.

- Again, by bringing up the Castle/Medieval set, the Star Wars set, and the Hogwarts set, she's highlighting more examples of sets that are exactly what she is purportedly wanting to see. Attitudes she's wanting to see. But somehow arguing she is not seeing. Right now I'm going to say that the argument APPEARS to be "I have a problem with a girly girl pandering set", which I can understand. But what she's doing is feeding a good counterargument of "Well consider it another specialized set and if you don't like it, there's a buffet of gender-neutral, all inclusive sets to play with or give to your kids instead."

- At 9:36 the screen almost forms the word "CRAIC" as an acronym and I thought it was a funny linguistic joke. It does not. I am sad.

- "So there must be a reason girls aren't interested in Legos as a whole." Wait what? The premise and argument started out that Lego is pandering to boys largely, not that girls aren't interested in Lego. So... can I get some reference to girls not playing with these toys?

- Oh okay, she waited until video two to start in on that particular piece of logic. Lazy and bad editing or plotting, but that's more of a nitpick than anything, I guess.

- As she goes through the history of Lego advertising, I want to make a prediction that I hope doesn't blow up in my face but might. Given that we're talking about a relatively gender neutral (and family/age inclusive) advertising tone, we're looking at a chicken/egg scenario: Did they decide to market to boys exclusively, and that led to boys embracing it more? Or did they do market research that Lego was popular among boys to such a degree that they made a sound business decision to embrace that market better? If it's the former, she has a complaint. If it's the latter, we've just wasted 25 minutes of her taking a two minute argument - "Companies should reach out to both genders, even in the face of market forces" - and spent way too long analyzing it in an attempt to crate Mt. Molehill.

- The castle ad is a fair point since it keeps emphasizing boy. But the Technic ad is a bad, bad call. It emphasizes the building and technical aspects of the line and has a barely-in-frame boy in a couple shots. If girls are not attracted to engineering (and there are definitely social issues at work there), this is not the fault of Lego by way of this ad. But feel free to mug for the camera and facepalm hilariously, I guess.

- The Build Together campaign was very definitely male oriented. It's almost laughably insulting how bad it is. They could have just slapped "BUILDING IS FOR DUDES. AND THEIR DUDE FRIENDS OR DADS" on the ads and it would have had effectively the same issue. Lego really missed an opportunity here to get back to the whole family ideal. Watching a son build a house with his mom, a daughter build a cityscape with her dad, or anything like that would have been great. So yeah, definitely agree here: poor form, Lego.

- While Star Wars was largely male-populated, it is pretty popular among both sexes. Indiana Jones, probably not quite as much. Complaining about Pirates and slipping some LotR pictures in there as more "examples" is not actually a good call.

- Okay, so "stereotypical boy play scenarios" is now the complaint. Not "hey let's take these harmful gender stereotypes and break down the gender walls" as was the argument when we were facepalming just so hard about the girly sets. While the recent sets do focus on combat and action, the complaint she has now shows a need to just find anything wrong rather than maintain a constant argument.

- I was really hoping she'd bring it back to "I wish Lego would market this to girls," but instead it's just "conflict is bad!" More of the above.

- I really do agree that a consequence of making a "girl" set reinforces the notion that the more gender neutral sets are "for boys" even if they weren't originally (though at this point many of them are, yes).

- Finished. Too bad we didn't get a note about the chicken/egg scenario.

- I do agree with some of her core arguments: Lego would be better served as a development tool that went back to its roots as a construction toy and not a series of IKEA Action Figures. Lego Friends is a horrible line that is overall insulting due to the other factors surrounding Lego. What I disagree with is that a pastel-drowning set needs to go away. She mentioned briefly it'd be better as an integrated part of the City sets, which sounds right to me. Overall, though, her message gets bogged down in crusading to the point where she is constantly cherry-picking examples to hammer away at a point she could make a lot more clearly and powerfully. It'd help to focus on certain items and not instead just try to drown people in finding everything that could possibly be seen as wrong for any reason, even when seen from inconsistent viewpoints.

Bloo Driver wrote:

- This further weakens her previous position that the main Lego City sets are somehow male dominated. If gender is a construct and the colors and activities don't actually matter... the question remains as what is wrong with giving your girl Lego City?

If the jobs are done exclusively by male figures then it's teaching the lesson that "men do these jobs" and it's not teaching the notion that "colours and activities don't matter"

Bloo Driver wrote:

- Again, by bringing up the Castle/Medieval set, the Star Wars set, and the Hogwarts set, she's highlighting more examples of sets that are exactly what she is purportedly wanting to see. Attitudes she's wanting to see. But somehow arguing she is not seeing. Right now I'm going to say that the argument APPEARS to be "I have a problem with a girly girl pandering set", which I can understand. But what she's doing is feeding a good counterargument of "Well consider it another specialized set and if you don't like it, there's a buffet of gender-neutral, all inclusive sets to play with or give to your kids instead."

Parents don't get a completely free choice in the sets they buy their kids. The kids watch the advertising, see the boxes and they want particular sets. It's not for no reason that "pester power" is a thing that marketers deliberately try and leverage. You might want to buy the gender neutral set but when your kid is screaming for the pink set you'll probably cave in.

Bloo Driver wrote:

Did they decide to market to boys exclusively, and that led to boys embracing it more? Or did they do market research that Lego was popular among boys to such a degree that they made a sound business decision to embrace that market better?

Kind of doesn't really matter, either way some segment of girls are losing out on a toy they would have enjoyed

Bloo Driver wrote:

if it's the former, she has a complaint. If it's the latter, we've just wasted 25 minutes of her taking a two minute argument - "Companies should reach out to both genders, even in the face of market forces" - and spent way too long analyzing it in an attempt to crate Mt. Molehill.

Still it's a bit of a shame that market forces deprive some girls of a toy they'd enjoy and might be good for them. Things aren't "Good" because market forces swing that way.