Tag Archives: tv

Standard linkspam procedure (7 May 2013)

  • The 30 Most Important Women Under 30 In Tech: “We were truly blown away by the number of young, successful women in the tech industry. These women hold a variety of roles in the industry: founder, CEO, engineer, venture capitalist — you name it. “
  • The Balance of Power: “The systematic, persistent acceptance of women’s second-class status is history’s greatest shame.”
  • Good for GitHub: “Women-only programs work well for some women, and for that reason, I’m glad they exist. And I’m glad GitHub supports one of them.”
  • Just because you like it, doesn’t make it feminist: On Game of Thrones “I get the feeling that (some) women, especially younger feminist women, really, really want the things they like to be feminist. Which is a nice thought, of course, but is also ridiculous.”
  • Sexism in Video Games Panel at ETSUcon: “Kat, Jenn, Cameron and I fielded questions on a variety of topics ranging from the infamous Dead Island: Riptide statue to the representation of women in video games to the inclusion of women in video game development studios.”
  • I’m a dude. Can I organize a RailsBridge workshop? “So gentlemen, dudes, guys, and men: please organize a workshop. Please assist a woman who’s already organizing one. Take those logistical things off her plate (if she wants to share them) so that she can be a technical presence at a workshop. (Perhaps you can recruit a woman to present the technical portion of the opening presentation while you cover the other parts.)”
  • Taking Out the Trash: Post-Trilogy Reflections on “Iron Man 3″: “The superhero genre was—once, long ago—fantastically subversive.”
  • Amy Dentata and Black Dahlia Parton talk trangst, porn, and video games: Self-described geek feminism podcast.
  • Your Baloney Detection Kit Sucks: “The most troubling aspect of logical fallacies is their use in suppressing uncomfortable ideas and viewpoints, and this can happen whether they are invoked correctly or not. I’ve seen countless examples of fallacies being called upon to dismiss other people’s opinions and ride over their emotions. Used in this way, they are tools of power, summoned to establish and protect a self-serving clique.”

You can suggest links for future linkspams in comments here, or by using the “geekfeminism” tag on delicious or pinboard.in or the “#geekfeminism” tag on Twitter. Please note that we tend to stick to publishing recent links (from the last month or so).

Thanks to everyone who suggested links.

Time Ladies: All 11 Doctors from Dr. Who, represented as women. Picture by Gladys @ http://rocketssurgery.tumblr.com

Time Ladies: Adorable Gender-swapped Doctor Who

So. Darned. Cute.

Time Ladies: first 6 Doctors from Doctor who, represented as women by Gladys @ http://rocketssurgery.tumblr.com

Time Ladies: Last 5 Doctors from Dr. Who, represented as women.  Picture by Gladys @ http://rocketssurgery.tumblr.com

Time Ladies: Doctors from Dr. Who, represented as women. Picture by Gladys @ http://rocketssurgery.tumblr.com

Picture via Gladys, whose artwork just took up some of my afternoon and I don’t mind a bit!

I should probably compile a post with some of the excellent gender swaps I’ve seen lately, but I know if I wait I might forget, and this is too cute risk forgetting.

So in preparation for a potential future post full of pictures… what’s the cutest gender swap you’ve seen lately?

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic promo image showing the main characters

Re-post: OMG, Ponies! (Or… my love affair with My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic)

During the December/January slowdown, Geek Feminism is re-publishing some of our highlights from last year. This post originally appeared on September 16, 2011.

I always thought my friend Sarah summed up the appeal of My Little Pony the best:

Once you believe in rainbow-coloured ponies who can talk, there isn’t much limit to your imagination.

My Little Pony group shot, artist unknown

My Little Pony group shot, artist unknown

I was the sort of little girl who had over a hundred My Little Ponies, largely due to my mother’s uncanny ability to find them incredibly cheap at garage sales. With so many, we could put on pony musicals where we wrote or adapted all the music and made costumes out of whatever scraps our parents were willing to lend us. My childhood best friend and I built an entire “computer game” for my little sister to play using ponies as the characters (Gameplay was inspired by our favourite adventure game for PC, Monkey Island. Nowadays, I’d call it a roleplaying game but I didn’t know the terminology then.) We had ponies on the bridge of the Enterprise, and ponies going camping on the very conveniently green-carpeted stairs in my house, and ponies ponies ponies.

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic promo image showing the main characters

So when I heard that the new series was being spearheaded by the woman who brought us Powerpuff Girls, I was intrigued. And then I started hearing stuff about how it was really good. In fact, it was so good that it was garnering adult fans, including men who were really not in the target demographic at all. “Bronies.”

But I was busy, so I held off ’till after my first big academic job talk when finally the juxtaposition between this latest transition to adulthood and my inner child was too funny to pass up. I loaded up a couple of episodes on youtube from my room at the bed and breakfast where I was staying. They were fun! So then, through the gruelling months of finishing my thesis, I’d use ponies as a treat for finishing a round of revisions. By now, I’ve almost learned all the words to the song in my favourite episode. I learned that Brony could mean any adult fan, not just the boys. I learned that the brown pony with the hourglass “cutie mark” on his butt had been fan-named “Dr. Whooves” for his resemblance to a certain timelord. I found myself hitting up Equestria Daily for a daily dose of cute fanart. I started making a pony crochet pattern while my internet was slow. I am most definitely hooked. (*groan* … crochet pun.)

Young Dash by Arcum89

Young Dash by Arcum89

Creator Lauren Faust says, “I used to say that my own inner eight-year-old was my personal focus group.” and she’s certainly channelled the sorts of adventures that my little ponies were having too. Most importantly, it doesn’t rely on the offensive “girly” stereotypes that irk me so much as an adult woman. Consider the “mane” six: Geeky Twilight Sparkle loves books and learning and isn’t afraid to show it. Honest Applejack is self-reliant even to a fault! Rainbow Dash is competitive (the way people keep telling us women aren’t supposed to be). Fluttershy is the timid animal lover, but with a core of strength especially when it comes to protecting her friends. Even Rarity, the most stereotypically girly debutante pony and fashion designer, is also a dedicated small-business owner. And Pinkie Pie is just soooo random. These gals aren’t always breaking into tears when life gets hard: they’re trying novel solutions and finding a lot of inner strength.

There’s an excellent interview with Lauren Faust up at Equestria Daily which I think will appeal to many geek feminists, even if you’re not fans of the show. Here’s a quote (edited slightly for ableist language):

My specific dreams are still to make great entertainment for girls. I just don’t think there’s enough truly good stuff out there for them, but I also have kind of selfish reasons. When I think of something I want to say or an experience I want to share, my ideas are usually innately feminine because I’m female – and I refuse to believe that something being feminine by nature automatically means it isn’t worthwhile. If I can put the tiniest dent in the perception that “girly” equals “[bad]” or “for girls” equals “crappy,” I’ll be very satisfied.

I think Friendship is Magic has really got something special going here. Not only does it show the kind of role models I wish I’d had on TV as a little girl, but it’s also show that flies in the face of the common wisdom that boys (and even full-grown men) won’t watch anything where women or girls are the primary characters. You know, maybe the problem was just that we needed more good stuff for girls? So here we are with the bronies, eagerly anticipating the second season (which starts tomorrow!), planning meetups, and buying toys. Maybe, just maybe, this breakaway success will cause publishers to realize that if you make great TV for girls, it’s going to attract more than a narrow audience. This could be the beginning of evolution in girls’ programming. Heck, it could be the beginning of a change in the entire entertainment industry! But I know you’re going to tell me all I’m dreaming.

It’s okay, I’m willing to believe in rainbow-coloured ponies who can talk; I can imagine anything.

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic promo image showing the main characters

OMG, Ponies! (Or… my love affair with My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic)

I always thought my friend Sarah summed up the appeal of My Little Pony the best:

Once you believe in rainbow-coloured ponies who can talk, there isn’t much limit to your imagination.

My Little Pony group shot, artist unknown

My Little Pony group shot, artist unknown

I was the sort of little girl who had over a hundred My Little Ponies, largely due to my mother’s uncanny ability to find them incredibly cheap at garage sales. With so many, we could put on pony musicals where we wrote or adapted all the music and made costumes out of whatever scraps our parents were willing to lend us. My childhood best friend and I built an entire “computer game” for my little sister to play using ponies as the characters (Gameplay was inspired by our favourite adventure game for PC, Monkey Island. Nowadays, I’d call it a roleplaying game but I didn’t know the terminology then.) We had ponies on the bridge of the Enterprise, and ponies going camping on the very conveniently green-carpeted stairs in my house, and ponies ponies ponies.

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic promo image showing the main characters

So when I heard that the new series was being spearheaded by the woman who brought us Powerpuff Girls, I was intrigued. And then I started hearing stuff about how it was really good. In fact, it was so good that it was garnering adult fans, including men who were really not in the target demographic at all. “Bronies.”

But I was busy, so I held off ’till after my first big academic job talk when finally the juxtaposition between this latest transition to adulthood and my inner child was too funny to pass up. I loaded up a couple of episodes on youtube from my room at the bed and breakfast where I was staying. They were fun! So then, through the gruelling months of finishing my thesis, I’d use ponies as a treat for finishing a round of revisions. By now, I’ve almost learned all the words to the song in my favourite episode. I learned that Brony could mean any adult fan, not just the boys. I learned that the brown pony with the hourglass “cutie mark” on his butt had been fan-named “Dr. Whooves” for his resemblance to a certain timelord. I found myself hitting up Equestria Daily for a daily dose of cute fanart. I started making a pony crochet pattern while my internet was slow. I am most definitely hooked. (*groan* … crochet pun.)

Young Dash by Arcum89

Young Dash by Arcum89

Creator Lauren Faust says, “I used to say that my own inner eight-year-old was my personal focus group.” and she’s certainly channelled the sorts of adventures that my little ponies were having too. Most importantly, it doesn’t rely on the offensive “girly” stereotypes that irk me so much as an adult woman. Consider the “mane” six: Geeky Twilight Sparkle loves books and learning and isn’t afraid to show it. Honest Applejack is self-reliant even to a fault! Rainbow Dash is competitive (the way people keep telling us women aren’t supposed to be). Fluttershy is the timid animal lover, but with a core of strength especially when it comes to protecting her friends. Even Rarity, the most stereotypically girly debutante pony and fashion designer, is also a dedicated small-business owner. And Pinkie Pie is just soooo random. These gals aren’t always breaking into tears when life gets hard: they’re trying novel solutions and finding a lot of inner strength.

There’s an excellent interview with Lauren Faust up at Equestria Daily which I think will appeal to many geek feminists, even if you’re not fans of the show. Here’s a quote (edited slightly for ableist language):

My specific dreams are still to make great entertainment for girls. I just don’t think there’s enough truly good stuff out there for them, but I also have kind of selfish reasons. When I think of something I want to say or an experience I want to share, my ideas are usually innately feminine because I’m female – and I refuse to believe that something being feminine by nature automatically means it isn’t worthwhile. If I can put the tiniest dent in the perception that “girly” equals “[bad]” or “for girls” equals “crappy,” I’ll be very satisfied.

I think Friendship is Magic has really got something special going here. Not only does it show the kind of role models I wish I’d had on TV as a little girl, but it’s also show that flies in the face of the common wisdom that boys (and even full-grown men) won’t watch anything where women or girls are the primary characters. You know, maybe the problem was just that we needed more good stuff for girls? So here we are with the bronies, eagerly anticipating the second season (which starts tomorrow!), planning meetups, and buying toys. Maybe, just maybe, this breakaway success will cause publishers to realize that if you make great TV for girls, it’s going to attract more than a narrow audience. This could be the beginning of evolution in girls’ programming. Heck, it could be the beginning of a change in the entire entertainment industry! But I know you’re going to tell me all I’m dreaming.

It’s okay, I’m willing to believe in rainbow-coloured ponies who can talk; I can imagine anything.

A quick post about The Walking Dead

The makeup for this show: phenomenal.
Cross posted at From Austin to A&M.

 Like any good geek, I love me some zombies. So of course I tuned in last night to AMC’s new zombie show, The Walking Dead. And I found myself disappointed. Spoilers ahoy! (NB: I haven’t read the graphic novel. This is just a review of the pilot that aired last night.

The show starts with our hero, Rick, and his misogynistic partner, Shane, talking about how women and men are different. This conversations seems to function solely to tell us that Shane is a bit of a prick, Rick is a genuinely good guy (which I didn’t really buy), and Lori, Rick’s wife, is a bitch. Basically, it took about ten minutes for me to realize I was probably going to blog about this show, and not in a good way.

The dudes, who are police officers, get into a shootout, Rick is shot, and then we see Shane bringing him flowers in the hospital. (He assures us that he didn’t pick them out himself, however. That’s for sissy ladies. And he’s not gay or anything gross.) Rick wakes up, the flowers are dead, and the hospital is full of corpses and ruin. I did like the set up here; Rick has no fucking clue what it going on, and he’s still injured, so he basically cowers home, where he discovers his empty house and runs into Morgan and his young son, Duane. Their family was heading to the refugee camp in Atlanta when Morgan’s wife became infected and got all zombified. She still hangs about, and they can’t leave with her haunting them. Morgan wants to “put her down” and even attempts to in this episode, but he can’t. 

Anyway, Rick and Morgan arm themselves, keep open a line of communication, and Rick sets off for Atlanta, where he thinks his wife Lori and son Carl have headed. We find out that Lori and Carl are with Shane (and Lori is with Shane) outside of the city, because it’s been overrun with zombies. Rick runs into the city on a horse (looking straight out of a zombie videogame), gets his horse eaten by zombies, and takes an incredible amount of time to seal himself up in a tank. (Seriously, this guy must have the lowest amount of adrenaline ever present in a human being. He moves like molasses.)
In case you missed it, he’s a goddamn cowboy.

So far, I liked the story okay, and it seems promising for the character development of the people the show seems to care about. Unfortunately, none of those characters are ladies, who existed in this pilot for the sole purpose of helping to advance dude characters’ development. Morgan’s wife is in the refrigerator, gets absolutely no characterization (not even after the fact), and the only reason we even care about her is that Morgan and Duane are all traumatized by this. She gets a lot of face time in this episode solely because she’s been stuffed in the fridge, and we’re supposed to see her (rather pretty for a zombie) face through Morgan’s eyes. And the only other lady character with a name is Lori, who gets very little screen time, and most of that is devoted to kissing Shane, presumably so we can see how whorey she is, since she got over her husband faster than it took for him to heal from a gunshot wound. And perhaps I’m being too harsh on the writers here; they may not want us to judge her so quickly. But it’s difficult to tell, since that is basically the only thing she does onscreen, and the conversation in the beginning of the episode is intended to make us think she’s a bitch. She doesn’t ever get a side in that conversation, and we don’t get to hear about what happened from another party, because she doesn’t actually matter. She exists solely to develop Rick and Shane for us, and doesn’t exist outside of those relationships.

Get me out of the refrigerator!

This episode failed the Bechdel test hard, despite being an hour and a half long, and a fucking zombie movie, not a rom com. It could easily have included two women talking about practically anything, including zombies and survival, if they were feeling uncreative. But it didn’t, because it would have had to have two women talking on screen at the same time. And that, apparently, was too fucking difficult.

I think this show could get better. According to their cast of characters, there are at least some women playing a part in the show later. Significantly less than men, but they’re there. Possibly, then, they will get some personalities and perhaps even plot lines not connected to their dudes and romantic relationships. But I was really disappointed by the premiere, and am not feeling particularly optimistic.

Attention The Walking Dead  writers: women are not plot devices. And we don’t like watching shows that don’t think women matter as characters. Fix it.

Further reading (will be updated): 

Connecting with female characters in geek television

Cross-posted at From Austin to A&M.

s. e. smith wrote this amazing post a while back at Bitch’s Push(back) at the Intersections: “I Just Don’t Like That Many Female Characters.” And I read it and was like, “OMG GEEK CULTURE.” Because, really:

‘I just don’t really like many female characters, you know?’

I see this coming up again and again in discussions about pop culture; this is an attitude I myself once embraced and espoused, like it was a badge of honor to dislike most female characters. I thought I was being oh-so-edgy and critiquing female characters when really I was engaging in an age-old form of misogyny, where people prove how progressive they are by saying they hate women.

I know, it sounds weird. But there is a thing that happens where some feminists declare themselves firmly to be ‘one of the guys.’ I’m not sure if it’s a defensive tactic, designed to flip some attitudes about feminism and feminists, or if there is a genuine belief that being feminist means ‘being one of the guys.’ Once you are ‘one of the guys,’ you of course need to prove it by bashing on women, because this is what ‘guys’ do, yes? So you say that you don’t really ‘connect with’ or ‘like’ female characters you encounter in pop culture.

If feminists feel pressure to be accepted as “one of the guys,” imagine how geek women feel, particularly early in their lives, when they often feel isolated from one another.

This tendency to dislike female character reminds me of another “being one of the guys” strategy: I often meet women who tell me proudly, “I just don’t get along with women.* All of my best friends have been guys.” These women also often think that this fact actually makes them progressive (because nothing’s more radical than failing to create female-centric relationships!). And most of the women I’ve known who say this are geeks. It’s actually one of the reasons it took so long for me to become friends with geeks, because “I don’t get along with women” is dealbreaker for me. Any woman who says this is either a) telling me that I can never expect more than perfunctory friendship with them or b) inviting me to denigrate women as well, as the basis of our friendship. And no thank you.

Which is not, of course, to say that these ladies are horrible people. Women who refuse to connect with other women, fictional or real, are not causing the problem, but perpetuating it, because they’ve bought patriarchal narratives about women hook, line, and sinker. They seek connections with men, because men are the rational, smarter set, and by doing so they feel required to malign their own genders, because, as smith points out, “bashing on women” is just what dudes do. But loving other women, connecting with other women, is one of the most radical feminist act one can perform. And I think that goes for fictional characters, too, especially since I know that my personal path to feminism would have been greatly hindered if it weren’t for Xena and Buffy.

So it hurts my heart when geeks inexplicably “hate” female characters on geek shows. Indeed, the two examples smith uses are actually from geeky/fantasy/SF shows: True Blood and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It seems like misogynist write-offs of female characters are disturbingly prevalent in allegedly progressive fan cultures (like the overtly feminist Buffy), and the ones that have been pissing me off lately are, of course, Doctor Who-related. A sizeable part of DW and Torchwood fandoms has a lot of ire for female characters from these series. The two I want to focus on, in part because hatred of these characters is well-represented in both fan communitities, are Gwen Cooper (from Torchwood) and River Song (from Doctor Who).

[Spoilers for season 5 of Doctor Who and Torchwood: Children of Earth (season 3) below the fold.]

[Trigger warning for imagined violence against female characters, slut-shaming, and other misogynistic language.]

Continue reading

Geekspiration of the fictional kind

Here’s an Ask a Geek Feminist question for our readers (questions still being taken):

Reading Rudy Simone’s Aspergirls prompted me to crystallise this question: where are the female role models for young geek women?

I’m thinking of characters who have genius-level IQs, coupled with a lack of social skills and, for whatever reason, an absence of Significant Other. There are plenty of characters like this: Sherlock Holmes, Rodney McKay, Greg House, Spock … but where are the women?

Where are the isolated geniuses who are married to their work? Where are the women whose ‘problem personalities’ are forgiven because of their talents / gifts / abilities / focus? Where are the women who are single and don’t give a damn because they have better things to do?

I’m probably missing some obvious examples: I’m not a big media consumer. Remind me, enlighten me! TV, movies, comics, novels all welcome.

A few possibilities, from a fellow consumer of not very much media:

  • Dr Susan Calvin, in various short stories by Isaac Asimov. She’s the leading research roboticist on fictional near-future Earth, and a key employee of US Robots.

    Unfortunately Calvin is one of those fictional characters who is a little better than her writer: Asimov lumps her with some unfortunate embarrassing romantic and maternal feelings occasionally, and the song and dance other characters make about their immense forbearance in forgiving her ‘problem personality’ gets a bit wearing. But nevertheless she’s a key fictional influence on the development of robotics, and the main character in any number of the stories.

    The character Dr Susan Calvin that appears in the 2004 film I, Robot is young, movie-pretty, sarcastic and really resembles Asimov’s character very little, but I quite like her also and still think she’s a fictional geek role model if you accept that she’s very loosely based on the Asimov character: she’s abrupt, literal-minded, a high ranking research scientist and, something I really liked, she’s not shown as having any sexual or romantic interest in the lead character at all. (Shame she isn’t the lead character.)

  • Dr Temperance ‘Bones’ Brennan in the Bones television series; if, crucially, you can ignore or don’t mind (or like!) the multi-season plot arc about her mutual attraction with Seeley Booth.

    Bones is a forensic anthropologist prone to social mistakes or at least idiosyncrasies, but key to criminal investigations due to her unparalleled anthropological skills. The writers apparently think of her as having Aspergers, but haven’t said it in the script because you can’t have Aspergers on Fox, or something like that.

    I’m actually not an enormous fan of this show for reasons that are irrelevant to this entry, so I’ll point you to Karen Healey’s guide, since she is an enormous fan and that’s only fair if you want to try it and see.

Who would you recommend?