I Read the Internets – 9/15/07

Hello again, dear readers! I don’t have a good excuse for missing last week’s I Read the Internets, but I do have lots of great internets saved up for you to read, so I’m hoping you’ll all forgive me.

There’s a new kid on the linkblog block: Comic Gays [since removed] collects links dealing with – you guessed it! – comics and gays. Links are presented under descriptive headers, so the reader has a bit of an idea of what to expect on click-through.

Also in comics, odditycollector has a post up on her InsaneJournal, titled “WHY I HATE THE LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES, by Karen, number one fan,” that’s definitely worth a read:

I could usually suspend disbelief for the Legion stories, because it was easy to imagine that in 1000 years we would have spaceships and homicidal computers with disintegrator rays. It was harder to imagine that we *wouldn’t*. However, the world I lived in had people from all over the pigment spectrum, and the world the Legion lived in did not.

Meanwhile, Dean Trippe has started another excellent art meme. This time, everyone’s drawing Stephanie Brown – and with fabulous results. Check out the art that’s been produced so far, and then try your hand at a Stephanie Brown of your own.

Staying in the world of superheroes but changing mediums, Mickle has been doing an interesting series of posts at True Confessions of an Hourly Bookseller about gender and conversations in Heroes. You can find them all at through Mickle’s “Heroes” label, at present – just scroll to the bottom to start reading with her first post on the subject.

In the world of gaming, Alabaster Crippens wrote a great post about inclusion:

Please Mr Game Industry, hear my cry. I am a humble white straight guy, I am part of your core demographic of middle class kiddies with too much money (at least in theory) and time on my hands (I wish). I want to play a greater variety of characters as often as possible. I’ve played plenty of big butch guys with Bruce Willis style vests on. I’ve been Duke Nukem for years and I’ve even been Lara Croft and some of the other hyper-sexualised and ludicrous female characters. Give me somthing else. Let me play with race, let me play with sexuality, let me play with gender, let me be the weirdest and most varied people I can be.

It’s fun, it’s exciting, it’s different and it challenges people.

That’s why people like games….don’t forget that.

Another post by Mickle, “Well, I’m a Queen – Shouldn’t I Have Crown?,” makes an interesting chaser:

Very few of us want to be girly girls all the time. But a great number of us like doing some of the girly girl stuff some of the time. That”s part of why variety is good and stereotypes are bad. But variety means just that: variety, not just girls getting to do what they boys always got to do. There’s a lot that Lifetime does that annoys me, but as long as the kewl kids act like pink = cooties, ideas like “Lifetime: Everything Under the Sun for Women” will be popular because it will be the one place where we can go and be a girly girl and not be looked down upon for being a girly girl.

I think it’s stupid when Sega designs a series of games for girls that reinforces stereotypes, but that doesn’t mean I think that’s it’s a bad idea to have a game called Sally’s Salon – or even a game about taking care of babies. I just think it’s dumb that they are targeted to girls, and that only that kind of stuff is targeted to girls.

Meanwhile, a piece in Wired by Nicole Martinelli proclaims “What Do Women Want? Less Pink, More Tech. There’s some really interesting stuff in there, though I did find my teeth grinding a bit at this stuff:

“The main ways that I’ve helped women become more tech-savvy is to explain the technologies in simple and easy-to-understand terms,” Blow said. “It’s about understanding what the user needs and how they intend to use the product, not what a product is capable of doing.”

The study’s authors, as well as other researchers, agree on the key to upgrading women tech users from cowed to confident: Simplify, simplify, simplify. “Demands on women’s time tend to be greater,” said Sydney-born Bell. “If you wanted to design technology that would appeal to women, it needs to work flawlessly the first time out of the box and every time thereafter. They don’t have time to faff around.”

Making something that works isn’t the same thing as making something that’s simple, y’know? I can totally get behind well-designed tech that works flawlessly every time, and the concept that many women really don’t have time to mess around with their gadgets (my internets died as I was in the process of writing this column, tonight, and I will freely admit that I flipped out over the time lost while I was trying to get back online), but I’m disappointed that in a piece that makes a point of not falling into one of the usual “women and technology” trope traps (girls! will! buy! anything! pink!), another one is so freely tossed around. Not all women need or want simplified tech, boys and girls. And not all men need (or want!) the complex versions, either.

Duh.

For something completely different in the way of video game coverage, check out Mighty Ponygirl’s post at Feminist Gamers about the dichotomy she sees developing in media coverage of “good” games and “bad” games:

What we’re seeing is a clear line being drawn between “good” games (with Wii Sports leading the pack), and “bad” games (with games like BioShock, Manhunt 2, and the perrenial boogeyman Grand Theft Auto). What we’re going to see is a sort of class structure appear in the media’s reporting of videogames: games that encourage movement, or have theraputic applications, otherwise reinforce our culture’s standards regarding normative behavior, and don’t have violence in them will start to be reported on favorably, and games that have violence or a morally ambiguous message will continue to be demonized.

If you want more gaming reading in your internets – and who wouldn’t? – be sure to check out the September issue of Cerise. There’s some really good stuff in there this month, and I’m even more excited about next month’s issue. Hop over to the submission guidelines page if you want to be a part of it.

Moving on to books, there’s a new book challenge community on LiveJournal that I’m really excited about. The Writers of Color 50 Book Challenge is straightforward: Read 50 books written by people of color within a year. The year can start and end whenever you need it to, though timing it to finish up with next year’s International Blog Against Racism Week should work nicely for most people. Suggested reading lists and book reviews are being posted at the community, which should help get you started if you want to give it a try. I know I will.

One good book to start with for YA fantasy fans might be Zahrah the Windseeker, which I’ve seen most recently reviewed by Liz Henry at Feminist SF – The Blog! I read it myself a little while ago after several people recommended it to me, and enjoyed it as much as Liz did.

One particularly good post I read on the internets this week about women in media generally was this one by troubleinchina:

It seems like the standards are setting women up to “fail”. If you’re thin, you’ve got an eating disorder. If you’re not thin enough, you’re too ugly to be seen in public in anything that shows some skin. If you’re a mom, you should only wear “appropriate” mom clothes. Don’t be sexy, unless you’re a Yummy Mummy, and even then, it’s not appropriate. How dare you, anyway? Women over 30 should be covered up anyway, because only the young should be showing off their legs, but please, let’s wring our hands over the sexualisation of our children.

It’s set up to encourage discussion, so please don’t be shy about sharing your thoughts in her comments.

Finally, for a little humor to end this reading of the internets check out Richie’s search for the world’s sexiest men’s rights activist (a natural response to this). I can’t wait to see the results of the contest!

Comments

  1. MaggieCat says

    “If you wanted to design technology that would appeal to women, it needs to work flawlessly the first time out of the box and every time thereafter.

    You know, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say everyone wants technology THAT ACTUALLY WORKS. Regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, or preferred ice cream flavour. I know it’s a risky position, but I can live with that.

    Also, I reeeeeeally hate the term “lady geeks”. Where do people come up with these things?

  2. Jennifer Kesler says

    Not only does everyone want technology that works: I’d guess only a tiny subset of people want stuff that’s difficult to work because they take pride in knowing something others don’t know. I suspect the vast majority of men would also like a computer that is easy to use.

    As long as easy to use doesn’t mean it’s hard to customize if you know what you’re doing. 10 years ago, for example, the Windows OS had a lot of settings you could easily find and change. Later incarnations hid those settings. Now I have to download “powertoys” and freeware scripts to tweak my system like I want it.

    And I don’t think those changes were made to suit swarms of women users. As I recall, at that point, we still didn’t exist. ;)

  3. says

    You know, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say everyone wants technology THAT ACTUALLY WORKS. Regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, or preferred ice cream flavour. I know it’s a risky position, but I can live with that.

    I know, right? Gahhhh.

    ETA: By the way, that rather ambiguous phrase I just typed is meant to signal agreement. I just realized that my meaning is perfectly obvious when I say that, but it’s possible that a reader unfamiliar with the phrase would be left scratching his or her head. Huzzah for clarifications that are longer than the original comment!

  4. MaggieCat says

    Even my father, the king of It’s-Not-Broken-Until-I’ve-Taken-
    It-Apart-And-Put-It-Back-Together-And-It’s-Still-Broken expected things to work out of the box.

    Not only does everyone want technology that works: I’d guess only a tiny subset of people want stuff that’s difficult to work because they take pride in knowing something others don’t know.

    And in my experience those people are more than happy to simply hack into whateveritis and make changes you didn’t even know could be done. ;-)

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