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

DanB wrote:
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"

The City sets are actually relatively gender inclusive. With the exception of some of the more recent... uh... I guess "expansions" is the right word here, most of them are the minifigs that are just yellow heads. Arguably the default minifig seems male, but in the context of her argument, she seemed to favor the ones that are just painted to determine sex, not molded differently.

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.

I don't see how that falls into the scope of the complaint, though. Sure, kids whining for something particular is great and all, but that doesn't dispute my point - the properties I named above (both before and after they were made into Lego sets) appeal to both boys and girls, and that has been well established.

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

It does actually matter when assigning blame.

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.

I'm not saying marketing forces absolve the company from all blame, but I'm just pointing out that the argument she's trying to make in the video is meandering and unfocused. If she wants to discuss why market forces are reinforcing destructive gender role pigeonholing, that's fine and I will likely agree with her. But that doesn't seem to be the case she's making until she also throws that in. It's a kitchen sink approach, which is not a good way to make an argument or get a point across. Certainly, she can have a problem with both Lego and the way marketing and advertising works, but it's unfair to make a video aimed at Lego and not point out that as a business, it makes sense for them to act in a certain way if that's going to be more profitable. You have to account for that.

And that's why the question I asked above matters. Why don't girls engage with Lego anymore? Was it the chicken or the egg? If Lego spent decades marketing equally and it turned out girls just weren't buying it or wanting it, how is it a bad choice to go ahead and market to the folks that are buying it?

Bloo, thanks for your impressions, you raise some important points. My biggest concern, as someone who sadly has barely thought about or touched Lego in over a decade, is that she was cherry picking examples so it's good to get an impression from someone who seems to have maintained their interest. The videos were definitely a little meandering, but I think a lot of that was to reinforce the point, for good or ill that's up to the viewer to decide.

I want to kind of challenge the idea that the standard minifig is gender neutral though. I don't know about you guys, but we always called them Lego Men.* Adding female hair made them female, but the default was undoubtedly male to myself and the kids I played with, and the hair bits always got lost and meant the Lego Man couldn't wear a sweet helmet or hat. Now I know LarryC is some kind of detached Zen master who doesn't see gender or race or any other thing the rest of us see :p , but do you honestly see a standard minifig as genderless? Do you consider that a reasonable perspective?

*Annoyingly Googling 'Lego Man' gives 3 pages of stories about kids flying one in a balloon, 'Lego Men' gives the same number of stories about a giant Lego Man washing up on a beach.
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On a side note, I thought I'd quote myself.

MrDeVil909 wrote:

So now 4chan has this.

IMAGE(http://i286.photobucket.com/albums/ll120/MrDeVil_909/1340020860507.png)

So they are complaining that Ms Sarkeesian is getting too much attention and someone else isn't getting enough. Maybe if they put a tenth as much effort into raising awareness for Mr Banks and a bit less protecting their unused sexual organs from rampant feminists, then he would have some support and none of us would have heard about Tropes Vs Women in Videogames.

Morons.

I got this pic from a comment on a Feminist Frequency post on Facebook.

When I saw it I expressed sympathy and asked the guy who posted it why 4chan didn't promote Banks' plight rather than harassing, and very effectively promoting, Ms Sarkeesian's work. His response was, 'Whatever, I don't care about the darkie either.' I thanked him for sharing his small minded spitefulness and when I went back later to see if there was a response his posts were gone, not sure whether he was moderated or did so himself like a typical weasel troll.

I know anecdotes aren't evidence, but we all referred to them as LEGO guys, too.

also we capitalize LEGOs where I come from.

Seth wrote:

I know anecdotes aren't evidence, but we all referred to them as LEGO guys, too.

also we capitalize LEGOs where I come from. :)

Doesn't this say more about how our vocabulary is male-centered in our culture? In Dutch as well anyting neutral becomes male by default.

I also called them LEGO men when I was a kid, but since I got back into LEGO as an adult, I've called them minifigs.

Nearly all my Lego guys came from the old 80s space and knight sets. We had a couple of female hairstyles and the rest were rather androgynous, but I always thought of them as male.

MrDeVil909 wrote:

I want to kind of challenge the idea that the standard minifig is gender neutral though. I don't know about you guys, but we always called them Lego Men.* Adding female hair made them female, but the default was undoubtedly male to myself and the kids I played with, and the hair bits always got lost and meant the Lego Man couldn't wear a sweet helmet or hat. Now I know LarryC is some kind of detached Zen master who doesn't see gender or race or any other thing the rest of us see :p , but do you honestly see a standard minifig as genderless? Do you consider that a reasonable perspective?

I think it's reasonable. To me a hairless stock Lego guy was genderless, and acquired gender with the hair or hat. As a kid I was peeved that you couldn't stack, say, a fireman hat on hair, so unless you had female heads (with the red mouth or eyelashes) any fig with a hat always became male. Stupid manufacturing jerks

To me "guy" is male but "guys" is gender-neutral, fwiw.

clover wrote:
MrDeVil909 wrote:

I want to kind of challenge the idea that the standard minifig is gender neutral though. I don't know about you guys, but we always called them Lego Men.* Adding female hair made them female, but the default was undoubtedly male to myself and the kids I played with, and the hair bits always got lost and meant the Lego Man couldn't wear a sweet helmet or hat. Now I know LarryC is some kind of detached Zen master who doesn't see gender or race or any other thing the rest of us see :p , but do you honestly see a standard minifig as genderless? Do you consider that a reasonable perspective?

I think it's reasonable. To me a hairless stock Lego guy was genderless, and acquired gender with the hair or hat. As a kid I was peeved that you couldn't stack, say, a fireman hat on hair, so unless you had female heads (with the red mouth or eyelashes) any fig with a hat always became male. Stupid manufacturing jerks

To me "guy" is male but "guys" is gender-neutral, fwiw.

This may be a weird place to join the conversation, but I think that reinforces the point: why does putting a hat on make a minifig male?

Yeah I think honestly the default idea is that they're Lego men, but I also think there's some merit that if you look at a Lego figure in a somewhat neutral outfit like a space suit or scuba gear (I'm not full caps on Lego OR scuba, eat it, Baseball) it's easy for a girl to project herself onto them. I think she avoided the whole "lego figures are de facto men" argument wisely, because they're neutral entities in meaningful ways. And they do pretty much embody the universal appeal aspect she was wanting to see.

I should also reinforce that I don't disagree with her basic premise. I was more critiquing how she went about it and she did trip one of my pet peeves when it went from "a line of argument" to "anything that could possibly be seen as wrong from any given point of view just to get more attacks in".

Anita Sarkeesian does sometimes make points I don't agree with, but so what? It's not like I've ever seen a you tube culture critic I agreed with 100%. She makes damned good points the majority of the time and has done a LOT to open my eyes about gender bias.

Bloo Driver wrote:

(I'm not full caps on Lego OR scuba, eat it, Baseball)

we are fighting. We are in a fight.

We are fight?

Garden Ninja wrote:

This may be a weird place to join the conversation, but I think that reinforces the point: why does putting a hat on make a minifig male?

Dunno, I think because of lack of visible hair. Did back then, at least... now I know enough women with crew cuts that I don't think it would register as a particular gender.

But- theories need to be tested. To the Lego store!

Hypatian wrote:

We are fight?

Then who was phone?

I apologize, as this is a bit off the direct topic of the Kickstarter, though I it is related to gender protrayals in media in general.

clover wrote:
Garden Ninja wrote:

This may be a weird place to join the conversation, but I think that reinforces the point: why does putting a hat on make a minifig male?

Dunno, I think because of lack of visible hair. Did back then, at least... now I know enough women with crew cuts that I don't think it would register as a particular gender.

But- theories need to be tested. To the Lego store!

Crew cuts / shaved heads aren't the norm for men either though, so it seems weird that lacking gender markers, the assumption is male. That's speaking as someone who makes the same kind of assumptions. I had presumed it was simple bias due to being a dude, but your post made me think it isn't that simple. Neutral is assumed to be just another kind of dude, and the principle extends beyond minifigs. Robots, for example are usually assumed to be "male" in some sense unless they are specifically made female. If, anecdotally at least, women make the same assumptions then it isn't a case "like me by default" like I initially thought. It probably is related, however, to a history of patriarchy, and it is interesting to me how effects like that remain, even if we've made a lot of progress getting rid of the overt and egregious problems from that history.

Garden Ninja wrote:

Crew cuts / shaved heads aren't the norm for men either though, so it seems weird that lacking gender markers, the assumption is male. That's speaking as someone who makes the same kind of assumptions. I had presumed it was simple bias due to being a dude, but your post made me think it isn't that simple. Neutral is assumed to be just another kind of dude, and the principle extends beyond minifigs. Robots, for example are usually assumed to be "male" in some sense unless they are specifically made female. If, anecdotally at least, women make the same assumptions then it isn't a case "like me by default" like I initially thought. It probably is related, however, to a history of patriarchy, and it is interesting to me how effects like that remain, even if we've made a lot of progress getting rid of the overt and egregious problems from that history.

There's a class factor, too. I grew up poor, so a lot of the boys I knew had crew cuts because their moms could do it at home for free. Most of the girls had longer hair for the same reason.

Garden Ninja:

It's probably cultural. Bloo Driver jokingly refers to me as a Zen Master but it's really coming from the culture I'm from.

We not as patriarchal in terms of jobs and such. There is a very significant participation of women in jobs that I was shocked to find is male dominated in other societies. It is traditional for the woman to control household money and finances. By the time I was in college, most of the College of Engineering were women, just because there were more women who made the grade cut and applied. I had an equal number of female medical school classmates, and more women med students graduated than men. Most of the department heads in the hospital I work in now are women; though we don't really pay attention. I just counted based on memory now and discovered this was so. We refer to them as "Chairmen." We have no problems calling women "men" or "guys," if that's how the position is named. A "fisherman" is not necessarily male. This probably has to do with how Tagalog is very gender-neutral. We don't have gendered profession names, or even have gendered pronouns.

It not even safe to assume the gender of a person based on how he or she looks. You can't really tell whether someone is a man or a woman by that measure; it's more a statement of sexual preference.

It's the social background that's telling me that the standard LEGO minifig is gender-neutral. Even as a small child, I identified them as male, but I knew that that was just me. There was nothing inherent in them that made them males and I could see that even when I was immature and not particularly smart.

So, when I see a doctor or paramedic LEGO minifig, unless there are strong indicators that that is a male, I don't have any strong cultural reasons to think so. Ditto for chefs, store owners, and other such professions. I don't see a robot as male unless it has strong suggestions that it is (strongly male body outline, very low register voice).

I'm sorry, but this whole bit about LEGO really doesn't make much sense to me in the context of this discussion. It seems like you're not keeping your eyes on the ball.

It doesn't matter what she says. It doesn't matter what she's saying it about. It doesn't matter if she's right or wrong or some unholy melange of both. I don't care if she's a feminist. I don't care if she is an actual Nazi. I don't care if she's tap dancing down the street wearing nothing but two damp dishtowels and a smile. I don't care if she peels off her skin a la Men in Black and Ann Coulter pops out with a braying laugh. She could be black, white, Latino, Asian, or plaid for all I care. She could be part of a huge group, or alone in her principles.

The fact that any human being can choose to express themselves and get this kind of reaction out of others is the problem. The fact that still others applaud that she has received this treatment is the problem. The fact that there are probably not going to be much in the way of consequences, even for those who made direct threats to her person and livelihood, is the problem. And the fact that this goes on every bloody day in a thousand ways no matter how much "awareness" or whatever is built is the )&@% problem.

momgamer:

It is kind of relevant, but you have to see the entire Tropes line.

Anita Sarkeesian rightly riles about the Straw Feminist portrayal of feminism in modern media. Her own LEGO videos comes dangerously close to this trope, however. It damages her own cause to be reasoning and thinking this way - it gives more fuel for the misogynists to burn.

That's important to this topic, isn't it?

LarryC wrote:

That's important to this topic, isn't it?

Not really, because this isn't about critiquing her critiques (or funding method, as earlier discussed), it's about pervasive knee-jerk misogyny in gaming culture.

LarryC wrote:

momgamer:

It is kind of relevant, but you have to see the entire Tropes line.

Anita Sarkeesian rightly riles about the Straw Feminist portrayal of feminism in modern media. Her own LEGO videos comes dangerously close to this trope, however. It damages her own cause to be reasoning and thinking this way - it gives more fuel for the misogynists to burn.

That's important to this topic, isn't it?

No, Larry, I don't have to see her videos. That's the point of my comment. What she's saying doesn't matter. There is nothing in any of those videos that could ever justify what is being done to her. Even if it was pure, hate speech, dripping vitriol from every syllable it wouldn't matter.

As long as you sit there and opine about the message as if there was some word in any language that could be spoken or written by anyone that could justify their behavior, you are your own little part of the problem as far as I'm concerned.

momgamer:

You're coming from a "deserve" side of it. I'm coming from a pragmatic side of it. I'm not part of the problem since I'm not part of your culture. This little space is the only part where I usually comment, because the rest of the internet generally makes me want to punch my monitor. It's not good for my health.

I'm not saying that misogynist behavior is justifiable in any way. There is that message macro in your culture, so I can see where you're mistaking me for saying that.

I'm saying that Anita in her LEGO videos is coming close to being a caricature of the causes she wants to champion. She is in danger of becoming the Straw Feminist that she herself criticizes. She is seeing sexism where there isn't any, which is dangerous precisely because there is sexism, and her overestimation makes it easier for the sexist to dismiss her message.

The solution to sexism and misogyny is to NOT be sexist and to criticize sexism, not to be sexist the other way.

LarryC wrote:

You're coming from a "deserve" side of it. I'm coming from a pragmatic side of it.

Again, this isn't about whether or not you agree with her critiques. She could be 100% wrong and still the abuse visited on her is despicable. Observe the title of the thread.

LarryC wrote:

momgamer:

You're coming from a "deserve" side of it. I'm coming from a pragmatic side of it. I'm not part of the problem since I'm not part of your culture. This little space is the only part where I usually comment, because the rest of the internet generally makes me want to punch my monitor. It's not good for my health.

I'm not saying that misogynist behavior is justifiable in any way. There is that message macro in your culture, so I can see where you're mistaking me for saying that.

I'm saying that Anita in her LEGO videos is coming close to being a caricature of the causes she wants to champion. She is in danger of becoming the Straw Feminist that she herself criticizes. She is seeing sexism where there isn't any, which is dangerous precisely because there is sexism, and her overestimation makes it easier for the sexist to dismiss her message.

The solution to sexism and misogyny is to NOT be sexist and to criticize sexism, not to be sexist the other way.

Which would be fine in a Feminist Frequency Catch-All thread, if we had one. The LEGO video conversation is a derail from the topic of the thread, which is the reaction people had to Anita's Kickstarter.

In Larry's defense, the discussion has sort've split such that a healthy portion are discussing her criticisms, assumedly with the agreement that they are legitimate enough to be discussed. In other words, part of this thread has developed into "critiqueing her critiques," as bombsfall says. That part may deserve its own thread, but for now, it exists here.

The part about others' horrific reaction to her - portrayed by only one, maybe two individuals, in this thread - seems unrelated.

Or...that's how I'm seeing it.

I don't see you as being pragmatic at all. My point is much simpler, and much easier to deal with. You say we're not supposed to notice sexism, but you're basing your point on how good she is at her sex-based comments. If you truly believed in that sentence, you would be in my camp.

I don't think we should be making any determinations as to who "deserves" or doesn't. I believe that there is any "deserving". I don't believe Paul Christoforo would have deserved this. It is not possible to deserve this. Ever.

I don't care how good she is at being a feminist. Making those people's behavior permissible or not based on how good the person is at presenting their point is part of the problem.

And bullsh*t you're not part of the problem. You say it yourself. You're right here in this little space commenting. And the part of the problem right here is yours.

It was bad. We want to do something about it. We're thinking about speaking up in like forums to offset the negative noise.

I was not under the impression that there was more being actively discussed along those lines, but I'm prepared to participate if there is.

Talking about the justification of the LEGO video discussion is even more offtopic than the LEGO discussion itself. Let's not do that here.

LarryC wrote:

momgamer:

You're coming from a "deserve" side of it. I'm coming from a pragmatic side of it. I'm not part of the problem since I'm not part of your culture. This little space is the only part where I usually comment, because the rest of the internet generally makes me want to punch my monitor. It's not good for my health.

I'm not saying that misogynist behavior is justifiable in any way. There is that message macro in your culture, so I can see where you're mistaking me for saying that.

I'm saying that Anita in her LEGO videos is coming close to being a caricature of the causes she wants to champion. She is in danger of becoming the Straw Feminist that she herself criticizes. She is seeing sexism where there isn't any, which is dangerous precisely because there is sexism, and her overestimation makes it easier for the sexist to dismiss her message.

The solution to sexism and misogyny is to NOT be sexist and to criticize sexism, not to be sexist the other way.

Are you trying to draw the distinction between her having the power to stop this kind of behavior, and the responsibility to stop this kind of behavior?

Good article, terrible comments.

I am with Momgamer.