188 – Defense of the Geek Chick

188 – Defense of the Geek Chick

Thank you guys SO MUCH for your comments yesterday. I really didn’t want to have to rewrite this script. 🙂

Also, the quote comes from this page of Sarah Zero. I absolutely adore this online graphic novel. Go read it. Now. Kthxbai.

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Discussion (7)¬

  1. Styg says:

    A-freaking-men! As terrible as prejudice is, sometimes people can seem to forget that civil rights issues are meant to be about making things better for everyone, not oneupmanship and finger pointing. That’s pretty much what I was trying to grasp at on Monday!

  2. Midtoon says:

    Strong women make for better humor because the juxtaposition of traditional and modern views has the potential of creating many embarrassing, awkward or surprising situations.

  3. Empiremaker says:

    Every strong female character in a story, comic, show, videogame, etc. is probably inspired by some woman in real life.

  4. SomeShaker says:

    I missed the start of this arc, and am actually quite disappointed. This response is to this comic and the two before it. [deep breath]

    First and foremost, I invoke Moff’s Law(1). Suggesting that people should stop analyzing media is not saying anything new or anything intelligent, imo. The under-representation of women and minorities in media or the representation of such people only in stereotypes is problematic and it is something that matters. It is not the most problematic thing, obviously, but it matters.

    If you want to understand the word “objectification,” I really strongly recommend Dollhouse. The way that Active Dolls are viewed by everyone else summarizes what people mean when they talk about people being treated as subhuman and as objects quite perfectly. Nobody believes Dolls have minds, desires, or personalities of their own, they’re just tools that others may use to accomplish badass stunts or get sexual gratification. The way people will treat people who are Other as less-than-people is a concern of a number of groups. Referring to a person as a body part or object I suppose kind of counts as like objectification technically in a way, but it isn’t what most people mean when they grumble and rant about objectification. The narratives of objectification that celebrate stereotypical heteronormativity by making normatively attractive females the objects of desire and straight guys the only people who get to act upon sexual desire is most commonplace in mainstream media. I avoid stories and storytellers that a) link the value of females to their presumed desirability and b) treat all females everywhere as sexual objects of male desire. There are people who consider the most attractive objects of sexual desire to be creatures other than normatively attractive females. The fact that these people’s desires are ignored and that media narratives focus on normatively attractive females as the only worthwhile objects of desire is problematic in quite a lot of ways. It renders invisible the sexual desires of everybody who does not appreciate normatively attractive females – basically ignoring the importance or wishes of female observers or non-heterosexual observers. These media narratives also render invisible the beauty and sexual desirability of everybody who isn’t a normatively attractive female – and if we’re discussing Hollywood that’s everybody bigger than dress size four, male, under a C-cup, dark-skinned, or not traditionally femme. I don’t have a problem with depicting people as objects of sexual desire, nor do many sex-positive feminists. I believe that almost everyone experiences sexual desire and is sexually desired. If a work is going to contain fanservice or cheesecake, I would prefer that it be equal opportunity, or implicitly acknowledge that this is not the pattern of sexual desire by which everyone ought to operate (as yaoi does, to my knowledge).

    The counterargument to “gaaah this work is so insulting to women/people of color/transgendered people/people with disabilities/kobolds” that can generally get me to stop ranting is not “well analyzing media is stoopid.” Rather, I’d use what I tend to call the “Cthulhu is awesome and H.P. Lovecraft was a racist douche” argument: the fact that a work is problematic does not void it of literary, artistic, and cultural merit. The problematic or insulting content in a story may ruin some people’s enjoyment of a story others praise, such content will draw criticism of the work, and people should be encouraged to learn from their mistakes and create less obnoxious RaceFail or GenderFail or KoboldFail in the future.

    As for people inspiring themselves, I am not satisfied with my experience. Given the opportunity to challenge and affect the stories and experiences that future generations of geek girls have, I would rather they were respectfully represented in media. I would rather other people who identify like I do don’t feel left out of the stories they hear. I also think that while sociological imagery does not brainwash us into drones without independent thought, it does affect the way people think about the options available to them and the issues around them. Girls ought to be encouraged to play with the objects currently marketed as “boy toys” – especially the ones that teach about spatial reasoning and science and engineering. Boys should be playing with “girl toys,” too, as nurturing and care-taking behaviors ought to be taught to future potential daddies as much as future potential mommies. And the geek girls? Don’t need to be seen as fundamentally different from normal girls, don’t need to be socially ostracized, don’t need to be freaks. As much fun as deviance is when one has enough gonads to subvert cultural norms, the things one gains from subverting these norms should be available to those more sensitive to the opinions of their peers, as well.

    I do think children are influenced by the stories they’re told and the messages about society that their caregivers provide. As a result, I recommend well-told and respectful works to the younger girls in my life – stuff like Girl Genius and Tamora Pierce. I also rant about and point out the problematic and insulting messages in works that these people read, to encourage them to think critically about the media they consume. I do believe there should be more stories out there that pass the Bechdel Test, and it would make me very happy if Pixar-Disney movies ever pass it.(2) At this time, I am likely to grumble about the fact that really awesome movies disproportionately tend to focus on boys doing really awesome things, and I would like it if some girls could maybe go on the awesomeness adventures too. I had these grumbles after Up, I expect I shall have them on more occasions.

    There is nothing wrong with reading Cosmo or being “a woman of ice and bling.” Women who decide to be femme and sexual creatures are not inferior to geeky women. As women go, I’m not terribly feminine. If somebody wishes to wear high heels and makeup and go out in high-femme flouncy beskirted getups every day, that is as valid a fashion choice as my jeans, messy ponytail, and geeky reference T-shirts. I don’t think people are definable as better than each other based on the ways they perform their gender expression. Unlike the sex-negative feminists, I don’t have a problem with adults who decide to dress and act in “pornified” or sexualized ways.

    tl;dr: Telling people to think less is dumb, you use this word “objectification” and I do not think it means what you are saying it means, gender issues are both important and complex, and denigrating femininity is worrisome.
    1: http://www.racialicious.com/2009/12/21/and-we-shall-call-this-moffs-law/
    2: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TheBechdelTest?from=Main.BechdelsRule

  5. Frank says:

    TL:DR. Lyta is a total babe.

  6. Mage of Chaos says:

    @ SomeShaker
    I read your entire post. My head now hurts.
    Of course, it might be the fact i just ate spicy food, but!
    Objectification is a person using another person to satisfy their own needs. That can vary from slavery to a kid persuading his/her parents to get him/her icecream, and if they do, they’ll act real good.
    My last point (because i can’t think of anymore while my head pounds) is that you point out “Telling people to think less is Dumb” yet you say “As for people inspiring themselves, I am not satisfied with my experience. ” (with more attached to both.) My point is, by saying that, you are pretty much saying “Don’t think about inspiring yourself and learning lessons of self-uplifting. Thinking less is dumb!” …. Am i missing something here?

  7. Razmoudah says:

    Well, I’m not taking the time to read the posts here, but I’m 29 years old and I don’t recall seeing any strong or great heroines on my Saturday Morning Cartoons on NBC, ABC, or CBS, so wherever those people saw them they weren’t on the right networks. Also, before you try saying it’s because I’m a guy (which I am, and have mentioned before) I personally find a strong, independent, and resourceful woman attractive, give her the skills to be a hero and I find very attractive, just don’t try and turn her into some kind of a teen-boys wet dream, then I tend not to give a crap about her.