I (Eventually) Read the Internets – 6/19/07

Oops!  Sorry for the delayed internets this week – I had several unexpected social obligations this weekend, and just didn’t have time to sit down and write out a post.  The good thing about that is that I saw some movies, which may fuel posts of their very own.  Huzzah!

But for now – internets!

First, some deadline reminders:

You can still donate to the Octavia E. Butler Memorial Scholarship Fund in time for your contribution to count towards the donation-matching challenge grant offered by SciFi, Inc – you have until June 22nd.  See the press release at CarlBrandon.org for details.

There’s also still time to submit a piece for the next issue of Cerise, the women’s gaming magazine.  The deadline for submissions for the very next issue is the 20th.  That’s, uh, tomorrow, so if you don’t have anything ready to go, you might want to check out the themes for future issues, instead.  Though, knowing the submissions editor as well as I do (*cough*), I can state with certainty that she’s willing to give deadline extensions to writers who send in queries and proposals – so, all hope is not lost for publication in the July issue if you’ve got a brilliant idea.

You’ve got a little bit more time to get stuff together for the next edition of the Carnival of Feminist Science Fiction and Fantasy Fans.  Ragnell (who is particularly interested in WisCon reports) is hosting it at Feminist SF – The Blog! on July 1st.  The deadline for submissions is June 29th.

Phew!  I feel like maybe I missed something in there, but I’m gonna move right along into internets-to-read, anyway.

Those of you who read feminist comics blogs probably heard something about Misty Lee’s podcast commentary on the attractiveness of female comics critics (hint: it was not a particularly thoughtful comment).  I read lots of reactions to it, but two really struck chords with me.  The first, “Fat, Ugly, and Pissed,” is by seeksadventure:

Often people start calling for picture posts to prove they are not “ugly fat girls”. This not only derails the argument into a discussion on whether or not the women in the pictures are ugly or fat or neither or both, but it also feeds into the idea that being ugly or fat is a bad thing.

Let me repeat that, because that’s the point to this rant: When people make it a point to prove they are not “ugly fat girls” they are exacerbating the idea that being fat makes a woman ugly, or that being an ugly women or a fat women is bad.

Read it.  Srsly.

The other post I want to highlight is Lisa Fortuner’s response in her Just Past the Horizon column, “On Reflection”:

See, what kills me with that comment … is the automatic assumption that the female fans are in some sort of strange competition with the female superheroes. That complaints about hypersexualized and demeaning images somehow stem from the natural insecurity of a mortal woman who compares herself to a goddess or, in the case of Ms. Lee’s statement, a downright unattractive woman who compares herself to the ideal.

It amazes me that it never occurs to certain people that the problem is not one of jealousy or lack of attraction, but of identification with the character.

Also comics-related this week, Amy Reads had some really interesting things to say about comic book and superhero movies in her post “Harpies, Hotheads, and Other Such Heroes: Thoughts on Comic Books on the Big Screen.”  I’ll definitely be thinking over her points in that post when I write about the Fantastic Four movies (hopefully later this week.  If I don’t do it in a timely manner, will somebody please poke me?  Thanks).

Alejna at Collecting Tokens wrote about a different kind of movie hero in her post “Michelle Yeoh: kicking ass in “Supercop””:

She’s a partner to Jackie Chan, not a sidekick. If anything, he seems a bit like her sidekick. She’s an agent, not just a pawn. She doesn’t need to be rescued. She comes to the rescue.

That post was part of the Action Heroine Blog-a-Thon, which looks to have many other fantastic entries (and which I wish I’d known about sooner!).

Shifting from movies to videogames, BomberGirl at newish blog Girl in the Machine had some things to say about inappropriate sexualization in the Silent Hill games:

The breakdown is, in all Survival Horror games, as with many horror films, every character is fair game for predators, but the “girls” must ALWAYS be sexy, even in their death throes. The treatment of these characters exudes a desperate attempt for male control over the female body.

Personally – and this will come as no surprise to anyone, I’m sure – I find the tendency on the part of many creators to treat female characters as sexual (and usually as sexual objects) regardless of appropriateness to plot, genre, past characterization, etc. deeply disturbing, and also irritating as hell.  Sexy, sexy danger?  Not so sexy.

But that’s my reaction to the slapped-on-to-the-story-willy-nilly sexy stuff.  The, y’know, inappropriately sexualized stuff.  When sexuality is an integral part of the design of a thing, it’s not actually inappropriate (it can still be misogynistic, of course – but then it’d piss me off for other reasons).

So, anyway, that was a slightly digressive and ranty way for me to get around to saying that I was charmed by Jennifer Chowdhury’s Ph.D. thesis project, as described by Regina Lynn at Wired:

Intimate Controllers is a set of sensors embedded in underwear that direct the action on a video game. Rather than sit separately on the couch and jam fingers against small plastic buttons, players touch each other to control the game.

For her demo, Chowdhury made a video of herself and a partner playing Pong. He stands behind her with his hands near her shoulders, and she reaches back toward his hips. When he touches her left breast, the paddle moves to the left. The sensor in the right bra cup moves the Pong paddle to the right.

I’d be interested to see what Chowdhury could do to push her ideas further – if you watch the video embedded in that post, you can see that she’s interested in expanding the controller positions beyond her prototype’s somewhat heteronormative arrangement, for a start.  Very cool.

Another interesting read in the gaming internets this week (which has nothing to do with sexiness, thank goodness) is E. Cabell Hankinson Gathman’s “Games vs. Toys, or the Value of the Hello Kitty Aesthetic,” at Strange Horizons.  Definitely the most thoughtful analysis of a Hello Kitty product I’ve ever read.

In books, Reb of Adventures in Lame had some interesting ideas about potential new tropes in women’s writing a little while ago:

What I’m kind of wondering, though, is if thanks to the internet and fandom—places where women write for their own entertainment and for an audience that’s largely other women—there are a set of new emerging new tropes, which cater to a presumed female consumer. I don’t know if they’re really showing up in the publishing industry yet, since most of what I read is aimed a lot younger than the writing I’m talking about, but maybe it’s starting the slow transition from the internet to mainstream publishing? Which would be neat—whether or not it’s “what girls want” it would still be a broadening of the genre, and I feel more comfortable about “what girls want” being driven by people who are actually female (which is not the power structure in, um, any industry).

She also wrote about Dragon’s Blood at Active Voice.  I think I might have to re-read that series, soon.  It was one of my favorites as a kid, and I’m wondering how accurately I’m remembering certain details – I had a tendency as a child to focus on the smallest shreds of awesome in female characters in the books I read, and ignore all of the problematic stuff.  I doubt that I’m alone in this.

For some funny stuff to read until next week, try some of the “best of” the recent “Blog Like It’s the End of the World” posts.  And if you want something funny that can be digested in shorter bursts, perhaps you’ll enjoy lolcomics (possibly not a good choice for viewing at work).

See you all next week!  And hopefully on Saturday, this time.


  1. Jennifer Kesler says

    The jealousy accusation is a very familiar meme outside comic circles, too. Maybe fanboys shouldn’t be extended the right to critique, say, badly drawn fight moves unless they themselves can fly through the air with the use of spider webs or whatnot. 😉

    I had a tendency as a child to focus on the smallest shreds of awesome in female characters in the books I read, and ignore all of the problematic stuff. I doubt that I’m alone in this.

    No, you’re not.

  2. says

    And all I really remember, thinking back on them, is “Akki was so cool!”, you know? Reminds me of how surprised I was by how clear the Christian themes in Madeline L’Engle’s books actually are, after I was inspired to do some re-reading by Michelle.

    I guess it’s no surprise, with my revisionist reading tendencies as a kid, that I got interested in fanfiction later on in life…


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