Tag Archives: feminism

Who Is The Ultimate Woman?

-Marissa Tomko

Don’t lie to me—I know you all saw Beyoncé’s half-time performance at the Superbowl last month. Like many people, I found it to be electrifying, and have viewed it plenty of times since I watched it live. One thing that defines Beyoncé as an artist is her confidence. While it may border on egotism, I have never questioned it. So what if she is fully aware of the power she holds—it’s obviously working for her. In my opinion, Beyoncé is the ultimate woman and I worship at her feet. But her performance got me thinking—should I be doing that?

If you asked my girlfriends who they aspire to be like, you would definitely find evidence of their role models in their appearance. My New Girl-loving friend recently got the now-iconic Zooey Deschanel blunt banged haircut; my friend who has been a committed Britney Spears fan since she was 10 years old wears Brit’s standard fedora hat at least twice a week; Another friend tries to put together Rachel Bilson’s outfits daily. And me? You can usually find me lunging across my living room asking my roommates if my backside resembles my idol’s yet.

Role models are tricky because there is a definite line between aspiring to be like somebody and wishing that you were them. While I was watching Queen B perform, all I could think was “I would give anything to be her,” and it was true. In that moment, I would have sold my soul to have her body, her gorgeous curls, and her powerful presence; she embodies everything that I have ever wanted to portray as a woman. In that moment, I resented myself.

In the past few years, there have been so many different kinds of women for society to obsess over. As far as the variety goes, I love it. There’s the eccentric Lady Gaga and the free-spirited Jessa from HBO’s Girls. I even give reality star Khloé Kardashian some credit for her ability to speak her mind and take a stand. However, in my deep admiration for these unique women, I often forget that I am a person, too. In our quest to better ourselves, even the most confident of girls can confuse admiration with direct imitation.

Just because I will never wow the entire world while clad in leather at America’s favorite sporting event does not mean I will not make an impact. I can portray power and confidence in a different way, in a way that comes naturally to me. I know, I know—it sounds cheesy, but it’s true.

Yes, it’s okay to steal fashion tips from the women you admire. It’s even okay to wish that you were a little more outspoken. But it’s also important to remember to apply the traits that you admire about others to yourself. With feminism and women’s issues being such hot topics as of late, we all deserve to have a voice—our own voice—in this crazy world.

Follow Marissa on Twitter!

Image by José Goulão from http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3339/3546356301_c0c837afd0.jpg

A few reasons why working in the games industry kind of sucks for women

-Eder Campuzano

Video games are a tricky business. Talk about Xboxes with anyone born before 1990 and the image that immediately comes to mind is of a bunch of twenty-somethings downing Rockstar energy drinks in front of a 52” HDTV fragging the hell out of each other in Call of Duty.

Unfortunately, that perception is alive and well within the industry, which is why feminists the world over flocked to the #1reasonwhy hashtag on Tuesday. Posts in this category detailed the trials and prejudices women in the industry face, whether they’re creating games or covering them for media outlets. The most impactful Tweets were posted by industry insiders: writers like Leigh Alexander tweeted that working in the games industry can be disheartening because “my male colleagues are allowed to occasionally be obnoxious, silly, immature, annoying, drunk. i’m (sic) not.”

Games designer Mattie Brice tweeted that “I had to make my own game in order to see someone like me as a main character.”

You couldn’t refresh the search results for #1reasonwhy fast enough on Tuesday. The stories posted seemed more like something you’d expect from an episode of Mad Men than contemporary accounts of life in one of the most profitable industries on the planet. But why is it so tough for women in the games business to be taken seriously?

Remember the bros chugging Rockstars and playing Call of Duty?

The aforementioned franchise breaks sales records every time a new annual installment arrives on store shelves. Its protagonists are gruff, stereotypical military men who blow shit up and spout cheesy one-liners while they chase gruff, stereotypical evildoers who plot to blow shit up and spout cheesy one-liners. In fact, most flagship franchises are cut from similar cloth. You need look no further than games like Gears of War, Uncharted, and Halo to see that the most popular franchises are anchored by archetypal men who like their explosions big, their women curvy and mysterious, and their guns loud.

Even Super Mario, the man who replaced Mickey Mouse as the most recognizable children’s character in the early ‘90s, is guilty of one-sided gender portrayals games. In the 25 years he’s graced American television screens, Princess Peach has saved him and his brother Luigi a grand total of—wait for it—one time. And that was in a spinoff title for the Nintendo DS. Heaven forbid that game to make it onto a console.

In the 12 main-series platformers the portly plumber has appeared in, Peach has been playable just once, a fact that becomes less and less forgivable with every new release of the New Super Mario Bros. series, which allow up to four players to share the screen. What’s wrong with having the princess join in on the action every once in awhile?

As much as gamers would like to think that the industry is making progress, it just isn’t happening on an acceptable scale. Games, by and large, are designed by men for men. Even the titles featuring female protagonists marginalize their stars. Remember Lara Croft’s enormous, um, assets? Or the Metroid series’ Samus Aran and her Zero Suit? We don’t even want to touch the Dead or Alive series of fighting games. Those developers invest more time in jiggle physics than it would take to tour the country twice over via unicycle.

But there’s hope. The same people posting #1reasonwhy also created the #1reasontobe hashtag, which encourages women to remain in the industry. Megan Patterson, technology editor for the Paper Droids blog, put it best: “b/c if you don’t, it will never change.”

Follow Eder on Twitter!

Image from the Tomb Raider press site, Tomb Raider Chronicles.

Women in Film: A Feminist's Take

Women making many sandwiches for man

Image by user Pink Ponk via Flickr.

-Riley Stevenson

I’m a feminist.

Say that most places and you’ll receive an up-and-down stare, a scoff, or worse, be asked to justify your identity.

“But you don’t have hairy armpits!”

“Where’s your megaphone?”

“So, you hate men?”

I value my personal hygiene, think I sound like Darth Vader on a megaphone, and very much love men. But yes, I’m still a feminist.

Now, before you return to your Facebook page or stumble onto a new cat video, bear with me.

I should probably clarify that this feminist thing is new for me. A couple of months ago, I used “trick” as a term of endearment and started many of my sentences with “I’m not a feminist, but . . . .”

However, on the first day of spring term, everything changed. I was in a class called Gender, Media, and Diversity class, when my professor asked the class, “Who here is a feminist?”

I slouched down in my chair, rolled my eyes, and waited for short-haired, sweaty, raging women to raise their hands. To my surprise, more than half the class’ hands shot straight in the air (they weren’t sweaty and raging), leaving me looking like an idiot.

But how could this be? I care about equality and women’s rights, but a feminist? That’s absurd.

So, with the help of my friends, I devised a checklist to see if I passed the feminist test. And you can too, America.

1. Do you believe in equality and social justice?
2. Do you believe women should be paid just as much as men for the same work?
3. Do you need a man to make you happy?
4. A woman’s place is not in the kitchen. Agreed?
5. Women can enjoy sex without being called a slut, skank, or whore. Am I right or am I right?

If you answered yes to any or all of these questions, congratulations! Let me be the first to welcome you to the world of feminism: where women are classy, sassy, and not the slightest bit hairy. But if we wanted to be, that’s fine too.

Now that you’ve entered this super exclusive club, you might begin to see things differently. I don’t speak for feminists or the trees; I speak for me and say that I have begun to re-evaluate the way in which I watch movies, read books, and interact with friends since coming out as a feminist.

I was recently introduced to the Bechdel Test—a quiz used to evaluate the movies we watch. Here’s how it works: when watching a movie, ask yourself:

1. Does this movie have at least two women in it whose names we know?
2. Do the women talk to each other?
3. Do they talk to each other about something besides men?

You would be surprised at the number of movies that fail this test, including: The Social Network, the original Star Wars Trilogy, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Dark Knight, Slumdog Millionaire, Shrek, Ghostbusters, Pirates of the Caribbean, Austin Powers, and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. I would continue on, but don’t want to depress you too much.

Whether you’re a man or a woman, a feminist or not, is it too much to ask for movies that have a female presence that doesn’t revolve around men?

In 2010, only six of the top 50 grossing films were women-centric, and women comprised 9 percent of all directors, according to the Center for Study of Women in TV and Film at San Diego State University. In the words of Keenan from Saturday Night Live, “What’s up with that?”

Without strong female leads, young girls will grow up thinking our only career options in life are being damsels in distress, sex-deprived secretaries, and scandalous stay-at-home moms.

Because of this, I would like to recognize the dynamic trio who has made great strides for women in film and television: Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Maya Rudolph. From Saturday Night Live to Bridesmaids, these three women have transformed femininity. No longer is it taboo to be outspoken, independent, or enjoy potty humor (the rumors are wrong: women poop).

In Tina Fey’s book, Bossypants, she has a particularly poignant section that describes the impossibility of living up to the images displayed in film, advertisements, and television.

She writes, “Now every girl is expected to have…

– Caucasian blue eyes
– Full Spanish lips
– A classic button nose
– Hairless Asian skin with a California tan
-A Jamaican dance hall ass
-Long Swedish legs
-Small Japanese feet
-The abs of a lesbian gym owner
-The hips of a nine-year-old boy
-The arms of Michelle Obama
-And doll tits”

Books largely influence images of femininity as well. When looking at three popular franchises of our time, Harry Potter, Twilight, and The Hunger Games, the female leads of each series speak volumes about womanhood. Although at times women may curl up in the fetal position after being left by their boyfriends/partners/significant others as Bella does in Twilight, we learn from characters like Hermione and Katniss that our happiness is not dependent on our relationship status. If Hermione were to meet Bella, I have a strong feeling she would say, “Just because you’ve got the emotional range of a teaspoon doesn’t mean we all have.”

I idolize Hermione for many reasons. For one, her idea of a romantic statement is, “Ron . . . you are the most insensitive wart I have ever had the misfortune to meet.”

If Hermiones ran the world, we would all live happily ever after. But not in a castle after being rescued by our knights in shining armor. We would be doing the rescuing, thank you very much.

For those who doubt women’s capabilities to rule the world, an indigenous matriarchal community in southeast Mexico, Juchitan de Zaragoza, proves you wrong. In this town of 66,000, women are outgoing, run the economy, and do the catcalling. Women say they prefer to be alone than with a lazy man and being a single mother is respectable. Residents describe a society with little malnutrition, emigration, and intolerance. Could this system work on a large scale? Maybe, maybe not. But the world could use some change.

The purpose of this article is not to initiate a widespread conversion to feminism, but to take a moment to question the portrayal of women in the media, to challenge the way women present themselves, and to ensure that if you’re ever asked ,“Are you a feminist or something?” you don’t roll your eyes like I did.