Oppression Envy seems to be a thing now…

So, some people are trying very hard to make “Straight Pride” a thing. I’m going to take a moment out of my day to explain why it isn’t and why it shouldn’t be.

Look! I have a list!

  • No one is oppressing straight people.
  • No one is telling you to pray the straight away.
  • No one is going to beat you up just because you’re straight.
  • No one is going to refuse you medical treatment because you’re straight.
  • No one is going to deny you an adoption because you’re straight.
  • Your right to marry has never been denied because you’re straight.
  • You are not going to be thrown in prison because you’re straight.
  • There is no country on Earth where you can be put to death for being straight.
  • You will never have to fight the psychological medical field to have being straight removed from the list of mental disorders.
  • You aren’t going to be told you can’t give blood because you’ve had sex in the last year/six months because you’re straight.
  • Your family isn’t going to throw you out of the house when you tell them you’re straight.
  • You are not at risk of losing your job just because you’re straight in twenty nine states in the US.
  • You will not be evicted from a rented apartment or house because you are straight.
  • No one will refuse you service because you are straight.
  • You will not be told by your religion that you are going to burn in hell for being straight.
  • No one is going to ask you if you’ve really, really tried not being straight.
  • You will never have to search for representations of straight people in mass media.
  • Your sexuality does not get treated as a kink in pornography.
  • No one is ever going to tell you that you just haven’t met the right person of the same gender yet.
  • Your straightness will never be debated.

What’s happened is that you’ve looked around and seen not straight people having parades, you’ve seen them fighting for basic human rights. And you’re feeling left out. So you want your very own pride movement.

But pride movements don’t come out of thin air. They come out of systematic oppression of minority groups by the majority. They come from a place where the oppressed have been pushed so far that there is no place else to push them.

Pride movements do not come from a place of joy in being what you are. They do not come from comfort with your place in society.

Pride movements are acts of defiance. They are the collective roar of “No more!” They are the point where the oppressed push back.

Not being oppressed is not a type of oppression. Stop pretending that you are.

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Online Game Advertising

So, here’s the deal.

Gender based advertising sucks. And for online games, it’s kind of pathetic.

I was happily reading along over on fanfiction.net, I do love a few of the writers there if not the site itself. Anyway… I got to the end of the chapter and right there next to the comments box is an advertisement for Siegelord. Not the one with the map and the castle and the troupe of armored soldiers approaching as it says play now, join for free and earn gems.

The advertisement had a scantily clad, amply endowed, crying woman pleading with you, a presumably male online gamer, to save her people.

I’m willing to bet that my reaction has a lot to do with how my parents raised me, maybe even more than being an actual adult female gamer. But it sure as hell wasn’t “I will save you, fair maiden!”

My reaction was “Pick up a sword, you useless crying lump.”

Now, I have never seen a scantily clad, sylph like pretty-man sobbing in an advertisement pleading for someone else to save his people. Although I am very certain my reaction would be the same, and that a guy’s reaction to seeing someone of his own gender show like that would probably be the same.

“Pick up a sword, you useless crying lump.”

The plea to save “my people” indicates that the character in the advertisement is some kind of leader, or in the case of the sobbing tits of doom, probably a princess… which is also supposed to be a leader. Because princesses grow up to be queens.

And a queen without her king is still the gods be damned queen.

I’m not inclined to rush to the aid of a people with an obviously spineless leader. I can stand a character who needs help, that isn’t a problem. It’s the doe eyed, tear soaked, sex object begging the player to do it for her that annoys me to the absolute end of my patience.

While I found the graphic offensive enough, what really gets on my nerves is the text. “Save my people.”

Are they being charged by the letter for the ad? They couldn’t fit “Help me save my people” on it?

Warsong’s commercial tag line is less irritating. “Will you be my Champion?” is less objectionable because it is issued as a challenge, not a plea. Yeah, the character issuing the challenge is still a very pretty female, but she’s not falling out of her dress and she’s walking through the battle field like a goddess of war. She’s not a blubbering lump.

So, Siegelord people! If you come across this, could I offer a few suggestions?

1. Replace the sobbing damsel in distress. Really, it’s so overdone.

2. Make the replacement a stronger character. And by that I don’t mean a guy with bulging muscles and a huge sword. If you’re going to have a female leader asking for help, make her freaking regal. Her country is being invaded, so obviously they have something worth taking! Let the woman have her pride!

3. Change the flipping tag line. More Princess Leia, less bodice-ripper heroine.

Remember, using a female character to advertise your game isn’t a bad thing. But you might want to model her more on the Queens of Narnia (went to war right beside their brothers), or Batgirl (dressed up in costume and went out to punch criminals in the face), or Princess Leia (Hey, Obi-Wan. I’ve been captured, but it’s really more important to get these droids, and the information I was smuggling, to my dad than it is to save me, okay thanks!) than on the woman swooning on the cover of a smutty novel.

Girls and women play these games, too, you know. And advertisements like that only show us that you think we’re weak. So we’ll go play something else. And even with “play for free” you’re loosing a decent sized chunk of the market.

Renee Zellweger’s back? Wait … who the heck…

Renee Zellweger, who’s performances in Reality Bites, Empire Records, Cold Mountain, Chicago, and Jerry Maguire I loved, is back in the spot light. But not so much for her upcoming film The Whole Truth.

It’s because she doesn’t look like Renee Zellweger any more. Okay, I know people can change in five years … but they don’t tend to be unrecognizable when they come back.

Have you read my rant about how our culture is obsessed with looking young and denying that the process of aging is incurable? Or the one where I point out that no one can look perfect all the time and expecting our celebrities (our female ones especially) to be red carpet ready all the time is stupid?

This isn’t about that.

If Zellweger wanted to get something lifted, tucked or tightened, okay. That’s a hazard of our appearance obsessed culture that is especially harsh on women in the spotlight, and she probably has the money to afford all the medical hoodoo and personal trainers she could ever want to maintain her looks.

It’s that she looks different enough from the Renee Zellweger that when a coworker showed some of us the article on her smartphone, we thought that the press had used the wrong picture. She has said she’s happy that she looks different, and as my mother has observed, it’s her face she can do whatever she wants with it.

But, I’m going to miss her original face.

That was the face I watched all through high school, college and into my adulthood. I’ve seen that face for the majority of my life. That face was the face of characters that made me squeal with laughter, cheer when they found their confidence, and cry with them.

It was a beautiful face without fitting into conventional standards of Hollywood beauty. So, yeah. I’m going to miss Renee Zellweger’s face.

Gamer Gate? Seriously?

To be absolutely honest, I would never have heard of Zoe Quinn if the so-called “GamerGate” hadn’t come up on my twitter and facebook feeds. Because two men I respect and find amusing brought it up or replied to others in their posts. I never would have heard about Anita … I can’t even remember her last name much less how to spell it. That woman making all the really good points and critical observations on Feministfreqency over on YouTube.

But here’s the thing. Spreading the personal information, addresses, locations, financial information, and phone numbers of other people all over the internet … this Doxxing crap? It’s a crime. Making threats of rape and murder? That’s a crime. That’s terrorism.

Here’s what it boils down to: So what if Zoe cheated on her former boyfriend? That’s between her, her ex, and whoever else. If you weren’t having sex with her, it isn’t your business. If you were, that’s none of my business. And if you’re going to start screaming “journalistic integrity” how about screaming it at the journalist instead of the game developer? Oh, and before you start pointing out all the real celebrities who’ve had their personal lives splashed across the media? I don’t care, that’s none of my business either.

So what if you don’t agree with Anita’s observations on her YouTube videos? You’re allowed to disagree, you’re more than welcome to offer a different viewpoint, but calling people crude names and threatening violence, especially sexual violence, is really just proving that she isn’t wrong.

If you can’t figure out a way to express your disagreement in a mature manner, well, it’s only ever going to come off as you being a twelve year old stomping his feet in the middle of the arcade screaming that girls aren’t allowed to play after your high score got wiped out by someone in pigtails and a Hello Kitty tee-shirt.

Y’know what, though? Half of all the people playing video games in the US are female. Some of us have been gaming since we had to beg our parents to give us our allowance in quarters and give us a ride to the nearest arcade so we could spend the entire roll on a beat ’em up or a shoot ’em up game.

We have been here just as long as you have. Playing video games, reading comic books, watching Star Trek, Star Wars and Doctor Who, and collecting dice for table top RPGs and action figures.

We have as much right to enjoy and create and even criticize games and game culture as you do. That goes for the act of being a nerd and/or geek in general, actually.

And we aren’t leaving.

So go make your own sandwich, we’re busy.

Single in a World of Pairs

Can we all take a moment out of our busy schedules to contemplate the plight of the single woman in today’s society?

No, I’m not talking about the single woman who keeps bemoaning the fact that she keeps dating losers, man-children, and the guys who hit it and quit it. I’m also not talking about the single woman who keeps going on about “I need a man who” has a job, isn’t high all the time, won’t beat the crap out of me. Those are entirely different problems.

I’m talking about the single woman who is happy with her life and doesn’t feel that adding a man to the situation will make her happier.

Hi. I’m Jill Horton and I’m single because I want to be.

And I’m sick and tired of hearing “you just haven’t met the right guy yet”. I’ve met lots of perfectly nice men, and I’ve even dated some of them. Hey, for that matter I’ve dated a few nice women, too. I’m just not interested in tangling my life up with someone else.

No, I haven’t had my heart broken. I haven’t been hurt, emotionally or physically by a guy. And my father is a fantastic person and dad, thank you very much.

I’d like people to stop asking me if I’m dating anyone new. I’d like them to stop asking when I’m going to settle down and have a few kids. I’d like people to stop implying that I haven’t grown up just because I haven’t gotten married and/or popped out a baby.

I’d like to know where man who’s been married and divorced multiple times thinks they have the right to question my choice to stay single.

Mostly I’d like people to stop acting like I’m defective because I’m single and in my thirties.

I have interests, hobbies and goals that keep me occupied. I have a job. I’m trying to find a job that will make use of one or both of the degrees that I got while I was busy being single. I volunteer at Sci-Fi/Comic conventions and get to meet some fantastic people that I’d never get the chance to talk to in any other situation. I create things. I craft and I write and I draw. I enjoy going for target practice. I like to get out into nature and take photographs.

I have a life.

And I don’t think I’m missing anything just because I don’t have a man taking up space in that life.

To the women who do feel that something is missing in their lives when they don’t have a romantic partner, I wish you all the best of luck finding a wonderful one.

Just stop treating people like me, who are single because we want to be single, as if we’re somehow defective because we don’t feel like there is a person shaped hole in our lives.

Who knows? I may some day find someone I want to make a space in my life for, and I might want them to make a space for me in their life.

But I’m not going to go man hunting just because we live in a society that says I need one and I should want one.

Aging Resistant Culture

At what point did aging become something we aren’t supposed to do? And something we should be ashamed of when it does happen? When our hair starts going grey we’re supposed to dye it, and having our roots show is a fate worse than wrinkles. Except we’re not supposed to get those either. Our skin isn’t supposed to sag and the gods of media forbid that our butts and busts start heading south. Losing your hair? There’s an app for that! Or at least there are medications, oral and topical, for that as well as surgical options.

But why? Why all the dyes, creams, lotions, pills, lifts and tucks? When did aging become a horrible illness?

Ah, probably always. The myths and legends of things like the Fountain of Youth, ambrosia, and various golden fruits have been around since before recorded human history.

The problem is that it’s now a big business. The cosmetics industry is laughing all the way to the bank because of our obsession with looking younger for longer. And they’re using advertising to make us feel insecure about time’s effect on us. Getting old is not longer proof that we’ve survived, it’s almost a social crime. We spend the first two decades of our lives trying to grow up, then we spend the rest of our lives trying to convince everyone that we’re still young.

Y’know what? My hair is starting to go grey. My waist is thicker than it was ten years ago. I’ve never had a butt, and my bust lost the battle with gravity a long time ago. I’ve got a frown line between my eyebrows, creases in my forehead, and I’m starting to get crow’s feet at the corners of my eyes. But other than generally take care of myself, I’m not planning to do a damn thing about it.

Because I am getting older. And there’s nothing wrong with that.