Sexism, Gaming, Pax and Fear

NSMike wrote:
SpacePPoliceman, I actually meant I couldn't think of a poet.

Smoking slice of hotness cake T.S. Eliot. WOOOOOOO!

IMAGE(http://citelighter-cards.s3.amazonaws.com/p16rh0j5mo1ph0iu917aadvl15kt0_61999.jpg)

Anyway, regarding Dance. I believe this here is the definitive study on the schism between the human body and the art of dance. Couldn't find the original:

I have been following in and out of this thread, so I apologize if I missed the discussion on this. I figured I would add this to the pile, since I think it was posited at one point that the tech/gaming industry just gets a bad rap from a few rotten apples. Or something like that. Anyway -

"Game Developers Association Throws Party with Sexy Dancing Ladies, Because Tech Is Super Welcoming to Women"

Student developer Alicia Avril, who attended the party last night, showed me the photo she took and related the tale. On a stage at a crowded industry party, there were "at least three girls in white outfits–one was in a skimpy t-shirt one was in this weird furry get-up–dancing." Beyond the stage, dancing among the crowd, were women on stilts. "I walked in there not expecting that sort of display."

According to their website, IGDA is "the largest non-profit membership organization in the world serving all individuals who create video games… The IGDA is dedicated to improving developers' careers and lives through: Community, Professional Development, and Advocacy." It seems as if the person who hired the dancers didn't advocate on behalf of female members as well as he/she should have.

As someone who works in and with needlessly-maligned industries, I feel very comfortable saying at this point that there is a very real problem. A systemic and cultural one, not one that is being constructed out of a series of cherry-picking examples.

edit: Cuz getting a bad rap is not the same as a bad wrap, which is gross.

NSMike:

You're missing the point. One of the talking points being presented here is that clothing, and cosplay should not be viewed as a public display. That it's never alright to proffer your opinion in any way on someone's clothing. Clearly you don't feel that way, either. No, the Philippines is not that way. Was I not clear that I have to wear clothes for the benefit of others? What makes you think the Philippines would not have this problem? Have I suggested that I was living elsewhere?

If you're moving on to another talking point, then please acknowledge your stand on this one. I feel like you're just dismissing my concerns and opinions out of hand. If clothing is public, then some degree of opinion-proffering would be appropriate, yeah? If so, then where you draw the line isn't where I would like the line to be, but in terms of talking about which forms of opinion expression are appropriate.


Once again, nope. It's not about the cosplay, it's about the woman. Try separating the two. Yes, cosplay is a bit of art, even perhaps a performance piece. I'm not sure where inappropriate sexual comments suddenly become ok in this particular kind of performance piece, or any, for that matter.

Is there such a thing as appropriate sexual comments in that situation?

duckideva:

I'd extend that. Many people in your society are treated as objects; it is the default way to treat people. Your waiter is not a person, he or she is a servant - an object of service. The dominance of "bro-sphere" culture simply means that "woman" is one of those roles that are treated as subservient objects.

Let's acknowledge that that's a problem. What's to be done about it?

LarryC wrote:

duckideva:

I'd extend that. Many people in your society are treated as objects; it is the default way to treat people. Your waiter is not a person, he or she is a servant - an object of service. The dominance of "bro-sphere" culture simply means that "woman" is one of those roles that are treated as subservient objects.

Let's acknowledge that that's a problem. What's to be done about it?

This thread is about women, but I agree that the problem of objectifying people extends beyond that. As far as treating wait staff/cashiers/etc. as servants, that is far less common outside of large urban centers in the US. I was brought up to see them as people and ensure that their actions are both acknowledged and appreciated. I can assure you that many other US Goodjers were taught and practice the same things.

Did Lou just make a big city folk argument?

KingGorilla wrote:
Did Lou just make a big city folk argument?

He did, but I'm sure any examples to the contrary just aren't true scotsmen.

LouZiffer wrote:
KingGorilla wrote:
Did Lou just make a big city folk argument?

I did. Though what I said is it's more common, not "only there" or "everyone there". I don't see it as something pervasive throughout the US as LarryC seems to frame it. If you're going to be somewhere where it's noticeable though, that's more likely in a large urban center.

Well sure, there are more people in an urban center.

KingGorilla wrote:
Did Lou just make a big city folk argument?

I did. Though what I said is it's more common, not "only there" or "everyone there". I don't see it as something pervasive throughout the US as LarryC seems to frame it. If you're going to be somewhere where it's noticeable though, that's more likely in a large urban center.

It's far less pervasive than the treatment of women as objects, IMO.

clover wrote:
LouZiffer wrote:
KingGorilla wrote:
Did Lou just make a big city folk argument?

I did. Though what I said is it's more common, not "only there" or "everyone there". I don't see it as something pervasive throughout the US as LarryC seems to frame it. If you're going to be somewhere where it's noticeable though, that's more likely in a large urban center.

Well sure, there are more people in an urban center.

Yup. Right. So a tourist in the US is more likely to come away with an opinion that it's a part of our culture, because those places are where tourists tend to frequent and would notice it. Personally I don't see it as a part of our culture. I just see rude people being rude people. More people means more rude people. Not as a percentage, but overall.

Can we get back to me whoring our on WoW please?

NSMike wrote:
I'm not sure where inappropriate sexual comments suddenly become ok in this particular kind of performance piece, or any, for that matter.

I think I've said in almost every post I've made that it isn't okay. The underlying issue here is, does "inappropriate" equal "anything related to how the girl looks", given something phrased in a polite or respectful way? I'll buy that argument for a normal encounter on the street, but not when you're specifically talking about cosplay at cons. The other issue I touched on briefly before - it seems counterproductive to glorify those objectifying aspects of game culture by cosplaying as a character so frequently objectified. In full disclosure, I haven't played a tomb raider game for three-ish years so maybe those negative connotations don't exist anymore - though in my mind, they do.

Nearly all female characters have negative sexual connotations of some kind. Avoiding them all would leave you almost no female cosplay options.

NormanTheIntern wrote:
NSMike wrote:
I'm not sure where inappropriate sexual comments suddenly become ok in this particular kind of performance piece, or any, for that matter.

I think I've said in almost every post I've made that it isn't okay. The underlying issue here is, does "inappropriate" equal "anything related to how the girl looks", given something phrased in a polite or respectful way? I'll buy that argument for a normal encounter on the street, but not when you're specifically talking about cosplay at cons. The other issue I touched on briefly before - it seems counterproductive to glorify those objectifying aspects of game culture by cosplaying as a character so frequently objectified. In full disclosure, I haven't played a tomb raider game for three-ish years so maybe those negative connotations don't exist anymore - though in my mind, they do.

Inappropriate == any justification of objectification.

NormanTheIntern wrote:
it seems counterproductive to glorify those objectifying aspects of game culture by cosplaying as a character so frequently objectified.

Hundreds of people cosplay as Stormtroopers and Darth Vader every year. Are they glorifying dictatorships, planet destruction, fascism?

Most characters, including, yes, Lara Croft, have aspects other than sexual objectification. You don't know why a particular person chose a character unless you ask that person specifically.

Does the same standard apply to men dressed as the Doctor? (If you think this character is not often objectified, uh, let's just say you are incorrect.)

clover wrote:
Nearly all female characters have negative sexual connotations of some kind. Avoiding them all would leave you almost no female cosplay options.

My wife cosplayed as Vanellope from Wreck-It Ralph at Pax. She still got sexual comments thrown at her. The character is 10 years old, and wholly unsexualized.

LarryC wrote:
NSMike:

You're missing the point. One of the talking points being presented here is that clothing, and cosplay should not be viewed as a public display.

No. The point is that cosplay should not be viewed as a public consent for unsoclicited sexual commentary. Costumes may not be worn entirely for a public display, as some people have noted (see Duckideva's tiara). You're misreading the "talking point."

LarryC wrote:
That it's never alright to proffer your opinion in any way on someone's clothing.

This one is just skimming on your part. People in this thread have already provided cogent examples of how to compliment someone's costume or clothing without being sexual.

LarryC wrote:
Clearly you don't feel that way, either. No, the Philippines is not that way. Was I not clear that I have to wear clothes for the benefit of others? What makes you think the Philippines would not have this problem? Have I suggested that I was living elsewhere?

You use your culture and country or a misunderstanding of ours as a defense against criticism all the time, Larry.

LarryC wrote:
If you're moving on to another talking point, then please acknowledge your stand on this one. I feel like you're just dismissing my concerns and opinions out of hand.

I'm dismissing things that we've already covered because you're not keeping up, and trying to stall the discussion, or move it to a place where you control it. The simple fact is that women don't deserve to be treated like sexual objects no matter what they're wearing or what context they're in, unless they've explicitly consented to such things. And when I say explicit, it has to be that they have granted verbal permission to be a sex object. Even in that case, the grounding is shaky, because there are a lot of women who have been conditioned to thing that's what they are. The overarching problem is that there needs to be a conscious effort to ensure that women are not pushed into this role by a culture hostile to their existence as a person.

LarryC wrote:
If clothing is public, then some degree of opinion-proffering would be appropriate, yeah?

Already covered this.

LarryC wrote:
If so, then where you draw the line isn't where I would like the line to be, but in terms of talking about which forms of opinion expression are appropriate.

Others in the thread have also already covered this.

LarryC wrote:

Once again, nope. It's not about the cosplay, it's about the woman. Try separating the two. Yes, cosplay is a bit of art, even perhaps a performance piece. I'm not sure where inappropriate sexual comments suddenly become ok in this particular kind of performance piece, or any, for that matter.

Is there such a thing as appropriate sexual comments in that situation?

A few examples would be where the performance is being proffered as such, like a strip club, or in a relationship that is serious and intimate enough between both parties where there is an established comfort with and agreement upon implied consent. Or, even in an intimate relationship without implied consent where consent is explicitly granted. And once again, with the example of a strip club, there's the difficulty of cultural influence that makes a woman think such objectification is where she belongs.

Tanglebones wrote:
clover wrote:
Nearly all female characters have negative sexual connotations of some kind. Avoiding them all would leave you almost no female cosplay options.

My wife cosplayed as Vanellope from Wreck-It Ralph at Pax. She still got sexual comments thrown at her. The character is 10 years old, and wholly unsexualized.

So? She's a woman. She dressed for attention, she shouldn't be surprised to get it.

Demyx wrote:
Most characters, including, yes, Lara Croft, have aspects other than sexual objectification. You don't know why a particular person chose a character unless you ask that person specifically.

Aside: I think that's an awesome question to ask just about any cosplayer, and a prime example of a good interaction.

clover wrote:
Nearly all female characters have negative sexual connotations of some kind. Avoiding them all would leave you almost no female cosplay options.

I cosplay as 80 year old ladies and get comments. My daughter cosplayed as a 7' tall blue Japanese forest spirit and got comments and physical assault.

What part of what the costume is DOESN'T MATTER is not coming through?

Or hey, let's try this from another angle.

What part of this:

IMAGE(http://www.gamerswithjobs.com/files/imagecache/article_image/article_images/meassophieEmpProfile.jpg)

Would render a guy so aroused as to go over, grab my collar and look down the front and make a totally inappropriate comment about my breasts? Can you explain that to me?

NSMike:


No. The point is that cosplay should not be viewed as a public consent for unsoclicited sexual commentary. Costumes may not be worn entirely for a public display, as some people have noted (see Duckideva's tiara). You're misreading the "talking point."

Maybe, maybe not. As far as I understood it, KaterinLHC would prefer to never be offered unsolicited opinions, particularly as it relates to women getting all manner of random and unwelcome commentary on day to day life. Costumes and clothing may or may not have a personal component, but it seems like you think that there's always a public component. Correct?


This one is just skimming on your part. People in this thread have already provided cogent examples of how to compliment someone's costume or clothing without being sexual.

Skimming? Skimming?!?! I do not skim.


You use your culture and country or a misunderstanding of ours as a defense against criticism all the time, Larry.

Only when it's appropriate. Or would you have me defending Creationism when I'm against it? I was clearly commenting on my personal situation. Are you criticizing it? Was I not clear that I was talking about personal circumstances?


I'm dismissing things that we've already covered because you're not keeping up, and trying to stall the discussion, or move it to a place where you control it. The simple fact is that women don't deserve to be treated like sexual objects no matter what they're wearing or what context they're in, unless they've explicitly consented to such things. And when I say explicit, it has to be that they have granted verbal permission to be a sex object. Even in that case, the grounding is shaky, because there are a lot of women who have been conditioned to thing that's what they are. The overarching problem is that there needs to be a conscious effort to ensure that women are not pushed into this role by a culture hostile to their existence as a person.

Begging your pardon. I was thinking that objectification and clothing were kind of central to a discussion about cosplay. Nothing has really been discussed about it; differing views were not resolved or explored, as far as I can see.

Has anyone really said that women should be treated like sex objects? Have I? WTF.

Are you insinuating that I hold this view?


A few examples would be where the performance is being proffered as such, like a strip club, or in a relationship that is serious and intimate enough between both parties where there is an established comfort with and agreement upon implied consent. Or, even in an intimate relationship without implied consent where consent is explicitly granted. And once again, with the example of a strip club, there's the difficulty of cultural influence that makes a woman think such objectification is where she belongs.

My apologies. By saying "that situation," I assumed that I was clearly referring to previous stated situation. Allow me to rephrase.

Is there such a thing as an appropriate sexual comment in a cosplay situation in a con?

clover wrote:
So? She's a woman. She dressed for attention, she shouldn't be surprised to get it.

Sorry guys - you keep reducing the argument to things that aren't being said, I'm going to step back from this one.

This is why we can't have nice threads.

NormanTheIntern wrote:
clover wrote:
So? She's a woman. She dressed for attention, she shouldn't be surprised to get it.

Sorry guys - you keep reducing the argument to things that aren't being said, I'm going to step back from this one.

That quote there was sarcasm.

One of the biggest takeaways I have from this is to try to be more observant, and speak up when this crap happens. I think everyone could use an additional shot of awareness. It's how people get to be equal in the first place when they weren't before. Others have to be willing to stand up and say "Enough of this bullsh*t. We're going to watch for it, and if it happens we're going to do something about it."

If anyone is looking for how absurdly one-sided this is, check out Jon Hamm's latest complaints about people speculating on the size of his genitals. Apparently, he doesn't really like having one part of his body be the entire topic of conversation, and the fact that he wants it to stop is worthy of headlines. Meanwhile, there is another actor on Mad Men who is probably much better known for her dress size than the tremendous acting job she did last season (and other seasons, but this most recent gave her the best material to work with).

LarryC wrote:
Is there such a thing as an appropriate sexual comment in a cosplay situation in a con?

I think I can guess this one easily: no. Is she cosplaying a prostitute? She isn't interested in taking your money for sex. Is she cosplaying a mostly naked Batman villian? She doesn't want to know about you raising your Bat-signal. Is she cosplaying an 80 year old woman? She doesn't want you to stick your hands on her clothes, you should be arrested for doing it. If a person in cosplay asks you to have sex with her, then I suppose you could make a sexual comment safely, but I think we can assume it is not the costume that made her ask that.

Atras wrote:
If anyone is looking for how absurdly one-sided this is, check out Jon Hamm's latest complaints about people speculating on the size of his genitals. Apparently, he doesn't really like having one part of his body be the entire topic of conversation, and the fact that he wants it to stop is worthy of headlines. Meanwhile, there is another actor on Mad Men who is probably much better known for her dress size than the tremendous acting job she did last season (and other seasons, but this most recent gave her the best material to work with).

As it was put on Slate, Jon Hamm is being treated like an actress. He hates it.

Also, I'm sure that a woman cosplaying as a wholesome male character would get hit on specifically because she was cosplaying a male character.

Or, you know, because she's a woman and therefore fair game.

How many times do people have to point out that it's not about how people are dressed? That women put up with this crap no matter how they dress, and that while it may become more outrageous in certain situations, it's not justifiable in the first place. (i.e. a woman can be dressed in an utterly businesslike manner and still be treated in a way that should not be considered acceptable even if they were cosplaying.)

I believe that there are at least three threads of discussion going on here:

1) Appropriate modes of dress. Yes, some ways of dressing or presenting yourself are more or less acceptable in certain situations. That's true regardless of gender. It varies from culture to culture, from situation to situation. There are generally levels of "this is what you are expected to wear", "this will make people think you're uncouth and may raise eyebrows but won't cause anyone to run away screaming", and "this will get you ejected from the venue and/or arrested".

This isn't actually relevant to the original discussion, because it has nothing to do with the way that how you present yourself leads people to treat you differently, it has to do with how you are expected to present yourself in certain situations. (i.e. don't show up to work in a bathrobe unless there's some special office party thing or something, and maybe not even then.)

2) Appropriate ways to address people based on their presentation and the overall context. There are a lot of sliding scales here.

I think that if you're in the kind of place where people frequently go to meet people in hopes of dating, there's a bit more opening for flirting. At the same time, what a lot of people seem to think is "flirting" is wildly unacceptable. (I mean... negging? That's always bullsh*t.) Also, if somebody is obviously giving off "leave me alone" body language? Leave them alone. And if they ask you to go away? Go the hell away. And don't whine about it.

But, the distance between what's acceptable in the most formal businesslike situations and the least formal party situations is really not very large. In the context of the original article linked here: 'he’d probed what it felt like “knowing that none of the men in this room could please them in bed.” ' That's unacceptable to say to a stranger in almost any context. It doesn't matter what the venue is. It doesn't matter what they're wearing. It's inappropriate. Where might it be appropriate? With an intimate partner who you already know will understand it as a joke. [em]Maybe[/em] to a sex worker.

Similarly, the "does the carpet match the drapes" question to Felicia Day. That question is wildly inappropriate in almost any context.

Pulling things back a bit: The more professional the context gets, the less is appropriate. The more clear someone's body language and other expression that they don't want to be hit on, the less is appropriate. But it doesn't really matter that much, because the typical experience of women is that even in a formal setting with expression obviously discouraging flirty behavior, they are still treated in ways that would be inappropriate for even the most informal and flirty scenario. And that's bullsh*t.

3) The final thread is the really important one, the one that the original article was about. And that is: regardless of any of the above, it is a travesty for people to "keep quiet" out of a sense of fear and not wanting to "rock the boat" when they hear something inappropriate directed at themselves or others. Meagan Marie expressed that she has generally been able to get around that feeling pretty well when coming to the defense of others (for example in this cosplay example), but that even though she's good about that she'll still clam up when it's directed at her.

And she's not going to do that any more.

And I think that's the really super important thing here: People learn that it's "okay" to do these wildly inappropriate things because the natural reaction is to laugh nervously and let it go past, out of fear for the repercussions of making a scene, of not getting backup from the people around, etc. Both women [em]and[/em] men learn that. They see Felicia Day get asked that question and they're horrified but then they see that nobody is speaking up, and they're even less likely to say anything the next time, because after all everybody else let that pass.

The way to fix that is to speak up when you see this kind of thing going on. To support other people who you see speaking up about it. To not let these comments pass uncontested.

For women, this can be hard because of social conditioning, because of fear of the male pack in a male-dominated areas, and the like. But if you don't speak up, the men who are present will have some difficulty supporting you (see below). And if nobody speaks up, time and time again, it just gets worse. There's also the fear of real serious repercussions, like losing your job (e.g. Adria Richards—yes, there were other complications going on there, but still at a certain level: she lost her job because she decided to make noise. It could be she did it the wrong way, but it's still one of those things women will think of before commenting "Is this going to make me the next Richards? Can I afford that?")

There's a bit of a double-bind for men, because it can be a patronizing action to speak up for a woman who is present and not speaking up for herself. That does make things a little hard at times, because it can undercut them by not letting them speak for themselves. But: If they do speak up? Support them. If it's not a small-group dynamic thing with the actual individuals involved? Speak up about the generalities of the scenario, and let people know that it wasn't okay. If you hold back to avoid stepping on women's prerogatives to defend themselves, at least try to talk to them later to let them know that the situation made you feel uncomfortable, and you didn't feel you could say anything without being patronizing, but you have their back at any time in the future. And ask if they would mind if you spoke up next time, because it really upset you. etc. etc.

Mostly: Everybody involved ought to be talking about this stuff, and speaking out when they see something wrong, because that's how everybody wakes up one day and realizes "this is bullsh*t, and everybody else thinks so too, and there's no reason to ever, ever let this kind of crap go past."

Edit: Also, I noticed that there's an update to the original article that started this thread. Reading that now.

Also also: Unsurprisingly, the update includes this near the start: 'Yesterday a lot of the fears that kept me from speaking out for so long were realized. Although the general response to my words was overwhelmingly positive, I was and still am being called a stupid bitch, a c*nt, and “all that is wrong with womankind.” I’ve been insulted, misrepresented, and threatened.'

Which is, of course, yet another example of this completely apesh*t bogus behavior. All she did was say "I'm not going to stay quiet about people making me uncomfortable any more", and that opens her up to this kind of criticism? WTF.

LouZiffer wrote:
One of the biggest takeaways I have from this is to try to be more observant, and speak up when this crap happens. I think everyone could use an additional shot of awareness. It's how people get to be equal in the first place when they weren't before. Others have to be willing to stand up and say "Enough of this bullsh*t. We're going to watch for it, and if it happens we're going to do something about it."

I know where to start. Our software sales company merged with a hardware sales company last year. Our company always had 30 - 40% women, the other company's NEVER had a single woman in their 30 years' history (and 100+ employees at one point). It kind of shows. One 55+ old geezer regularly sits in between two good-looking ladies behind me, spouting a barrage of incredibly lame innuendo-laden jokes. As they both always laughed with his 'jokes', I assumed they were OK with it. This thread taught me that might not be the case.

One of these two women falls under my supervision as teamleader. I'm going to ask her, when the time is right and as humbly as possible, if this behavior bothers her or not. And that I would be fully behind her back if it does.

Any pointers on how to tackle this would be most welcome by the way.

Another point of action is mailing to Belgian game magazine Gameplay. I've been a subscriber for 15 years now, but it bothers me that they have never ever had a female writer on board, and that they always write as if the magazine is read by men only. I'm going to ask them what they think of all the sexism in the industry, and why they have never had a woman working for them.

If you ask her point-blank, dejanzie, she might still say no, just to avoid rocking the boat. Regardless, it's inappropriate for a work environment. Even if she didn't care, that sort of behavior teaches other female employees that your office culture is ok with preying on women.

What is your work relationship to Old Geezer? (Peer, supervisor, subordinate, etc.)

Edit: if they don't know Old Geezer well (they're from you're original co. and he's from the other) I guarantee you it's nervous deflecting laughter and they are not a bit amused by it in reality.

dejanzie wrote:

I know where to start. Our software sales company merged with a hardware sales company last year. Our company always had 30 - 40% women, the other company's NEVER had a single woman in their 30 years' history (and 100+ employees at one point). It kind of shows. One 55+ old geezer regularly sits in between two good-looking ladies behind me, spouting a barrage of incredibly lame innuendo-laden jokes. As they both always laughed with his 'jokes', I assumed they were OK with it. This thread taught me that might not be the case.

One of these two women falls under my supervision as teamleader. I'm going to ask her, when the time is right and as humbly as possible, if this behavior bothers her or not. And that I would be fully behind her back if it does.

Any pointers on how to tackle this would be most welcome by the way.

Perhaps you could bring it up by initially stating that his behavior bothers you personally. You're concerned about how it may be impacting the group's work environment and you'd appreciate her opinion as a member of the team.

EDIT: By the way, I've dealt with this issue before where I work. I've even been told by one of the female technicians who works on my behalf that she likes working with me because, "You treat me like a person." I felt mixed about that comment, as it had something to say about her work environment otherwise. I also did something about it.