It is now 3 weeks since Michael Brown was murdered by Ferguson PD Officer Darren Wilson. Officer Darren Wilson still has not been arrested, charged, or even brought to prison or court for the murder of Michael Brown.
Him, Aug 19:You are not attractive at all. Blurr looking, plus sucks with you fuck up explaination about yourself.
Me, Aug 19:Yeah, and you're the loser who wastes his time insulting women on the Internet.
Him, Aug 19:No, i dont. You are the one who wastes her time hopping a prince seduce you. Haha
Me, Aug 19:Aw yer cute. The internet is gonna have a great time laughing at you when I post this conversation publicly!
Him, Aug 20:Haha. Whatever looser..
Him, Aug 20:Hey.. lack of idea?? Haha
Him, Aug 23:Hi, miss looser. Still shitting around here? Hahahax.
Him, Sept 2:Looser! Fuck up yourself. Playing your pussy now? Hahaha. Get out of here bloody hell!
Me:*reports to OKCupid* This user has been sending me harassing and abusive messages. I opted not to block him and he has escalated his abuse. Though I would ordinarily find this amusing, I suspect I am not his only target.
Moral of the Story for Women:No matter how nice you are, or how you pretend that this isn't a problem, someone out there has decided to make you a target for their shitty, abusive, misogynist behaviour. You'll be shamed just for being on a dating website. Also, oddly, men will hate you for masturbating.
Moral of the Story for Men:Teach your sons better.
White women who talk about men with frail and delicate egos derailing posts with “not all men” but be the first ones to jump on a post meant to uplift black women and girls with “the same for white girls :) :) :)”
Im fucking sick of hearing these stories about black people getting killed & harassed by white police officers. I say we ban together as one big black gang & take over. Just like the white man did the natives & everybody else.
“When I was growing up in Brooklyn I remember seeing a black man on Pacific street wearing an orange suit and everybody stopped. I never forgot that. He looked like a god. This was in the ’50s. That was a transcendent moment for me. He seemed to be moving in slow motion and it just blew my mind. Clothes and jewelry have always been very important to me in observance of how people present themselves because that’s empowerment. Everything I do is about self-presentation and empowerment. You know why it’s so important? Because even people who have very little can control how they present themselves to the world. If you have no money, no nothing, you can throw on a scarf, put your hat to the side and walk out in to the street and feel good. It’s style. Diana Vreeland said if you’re not born with it I feel sorry for your ass.”—Coreen Simpson (via blackcontemporaryart)
I’ve been giving the side-eye to this “ice bucket challenge” video thing for a few months now, and I’ve had some thinky thoughts on the matter. I’ll just start here, in no particular order.
First, a couple of facts:
The viral video has added a lot of money in donations and a lot of google searches for the term
On average, 90% of money given to charities goes to their expenses. So, of the $100 given to ALS charities, $10 goes to whatever that charity focuses on: treatment or cure or both. Bear in mind that a good portion of that 90% goes to advertising, marketing and other service providers that are neither part of the charity’s staff nor the research / treatment organization the charity supports. Donations largely get spent here.
Here’s what is happening:
People are putting videos of themselves on the Internet
ALS is spending no money on these videos that include thousands of people and celebrities - without paying a dime for the content or publication or advertising. It’s basically, crowdsourcing the fundraising, bringing in revenue at a low-to-no cost.
Here’s what I’m thinking:
Maybe I’m a crusty, cynical old bastard. (and maybe “maybe” is not the right word)
Maybe this is nothing more than a way for first-worlders who are wealthy enough to have the means to feel good about ourselves by making ourselves the center of attention in a prank straight off the sidelines of a college athletic program.
Maybe this bumper crop of cash that came with very little overhead will be passed directly to the cure and/or treatment centers that these charities raise money for, moving the needle down from 90%.
Maybe instead, it will go into hiring new staff, advertising, admin expenses and that 90% will stay right where it is.
Maybe this is another way for US white people to make ourselves feel like we’re capable of rescuing the world from disease, scary black dictators like Kony, saving persecuted Christians, protecting women from brown men and religions other than Christianity and saving all those poor brown people on the planet who somehow live in squalor and we can’t understand how on earth they could live like that when they could live like we do, here in a land we stole from some brown people by killing and raping them with the help of some brown people that we stole from two continents.
Maybe if we really want to help, we’ll pay someone’s medical bills or fund a research institution directly.
Maybe if we want to end poverty, we’ll pressure the corporations and banks in our 401k and that we work for - to stop robbing half the world into poverty and keeping them that way for the benefit of this financial quarter.
Maybe - but only if we could make ourselves the center of attention in the process.
“…rather than reconsider their racist ‘solution’ to Australia’s nuclear waste problem – that is, dumping it on Aboriginal land – the Abbott government is desperately trying to find another remote site [after the Muckaty people successfully stood against a dump on their territory]. The NT government is actively assisting, with Chief Minister Adam Giles upping the ante and supporting the idea that an international nuclear dump could be the antidote to Aboriginal poverty.”—
the dumps, which include shallow unlined trenches for medical waste and above-ground sheds for nuclear waste, are being called “temporary” but will be in place for a minimum of 300 years. in return, they are promising $11 million in a charity trust for infrastructure, and a $1 million scholarship fund.
granted i am not very good at math and am definitely not one of those scientists that does nuclear waste risk assessments or whatever….but seems more than a little fishy that they expect an Aboriginal community to host toxic waste that will pretty much undoubtedly fuck up their water, air, land, and bodies for 10 generations, when they’re willing to pay them an amount that won’t even provide for 1 generation. [source]
The last few weeks in videogame culture have seen a level of combativeness more marked and bitter than any beforehand.
First, a developer—a woman who makes games who has had so much piled on to her that I don’t want to perpetuate things by naming her—was the target of a harassment campaign that attacked her personal life and friendships. Campaigns of personal harassment aimed at game developers are nothing new. They are dismayingly common among those who happen to be women, or not white straight men, and doubly so if they also happen to make the sort of game that in any way challenge the status quo, even if that challenge is only made through their very existence. The viciousness and ferocity with which this campaign occurred, however, was shocking, and certainly out of the ordinary. This was something more than routine misogyny (and in games, it often is routine, shockingly). It was an ugly spectacle that should haunt and shame those involved for the rest of their lives.
It’s important to note that this hate campaign took the guise of a crusade against ‘corruption’ and ‘bias’ in the games industry, with particular emphasis on the relationships between independent game developers and the press.
These fires, already burning hot, were further fuelled yesterday by the release of the latest installment in Anita Sarkeesian’s ‘Tropes vs. Women in Video Games’ video series. In this particular video, Sarkeesian outlines “largely insignificant non-playable female characters whose sexuality or victimhood is exploited as a way to infuse edgy, gritty or racy flavoring into game worlds. These sexually objectified female bodies are designed to function as environmental texture while titillating presumed straight male players.” Today, Sarkeesian has been forced to leave her home due to some serious threats made against her and her family in response to the video. It is terrifying stuff.
Taken in their simplest, most basic form, a videogame is a creative application of computer technology. For a while, perhaps, when such technology was found mostly in masculine cultures, videogames accordingly developed a limited, inwards-looking perception of the world that marked them as different from everyone else. This is the gamer, an identity based on difference and separateness. When playing games was an unusual activity, this identity was constructed in order to define and unite the group (and to help demarcate it as a targetable demographic for business). It became deeply bound up in assumptions and performances of gender and sexuality. To be a gamer was to signal a great many things, not all of which are about the actual playing of videogames. Research like this, by Adrienne Shaw, proves this point clearly.
When, over the last decade, the playing of videogames moved beyond the niche, the gamer identity remained fairly uniformly stagnant and immobile. Gamer identity was simply not fluid enough to apply to a broad spectrum of people. It could not meaningfully contain, for example, Candy Crush players, Proteus players, and Call of Duty players simultaneously. When videogames changed, the gamer identity did not stretch, and so it has been broken.
And lest you think that I’m exaggerating about the irrelevance of the traditionally male dominated gamer identity, recent news confirms this, with adult women outnumbering teenage boys in game-playing demographics in the USA. Similar numbers also often come out of Australian surveys. The predictable ‘what kind of games do they really play, though—are they really gamers?’ response says all you need to know about this ongoing demographic shift. This insinuated criteria for ‘real’ videogames is wholly contingent on identity (i.e. a real gamer shouldn’t play Candy Crush, for instance).
On the evidence of the last few weeks, what we are seeing is the end of gamers, and the viciousness that accompanies the death of an identity. Due to fundamental shifts in the videogame audience, and a move towards progressive attitudes within more traditional areas of videogame culture, the gamer identity has been broken. It has nowhere to call home, and so it reaches out inarticulately at invented problems, such as bias and corruption, which are partly just ways of expressing confusion as to why things the traditional gamer does not understand are successful (that such confusion results in abject heartlessness is an indictment on the character of the male-focussed gamer culture to begin with).
The gamer as an identity feels like it is under assault, and so it should. Though the ‘consumer king’ gamer will continue to be targeted and exploited while their profitability as a demographic outweighs their toxicity, the traditional gamer identity is now culturally irrelevant.
The battles (and I don’t use that word lightly; in some ways perhaps ‘war’ is more appropriate) to make safe spaces for videogame cultures are long and they are resisted tempestuously, but through the pain and suffering of people who have their friendships, their personal lives, and their professions on the line, things continue to improve. The result has been a palpable progressive shift.
This shift is precisely the root of such increasingly violent hostility. The hysterical fits of those inculcated at the heart of gamer culture might on the surface be claimed as crusades for journalistic integrity, or a defense against falsehoods, but—along with a mix of the hatred of women and an expansive bigotry thrown in for good measure—what is actually going on is an attempt to retain hegemony. Make no mistake: this is the exertion of power in the name of (male) gamer orthodoxy—an orthodoxy that has already begun to disappear.
The last few weeks therefore represent the moment that gamers realised their own irrelevance. This is a cold wind that has been a long time coming, and which has framed these increasingly malicious incidents along the way. Videogames have now achieved a purchase on popular culture that is only possible without gamers.
Today, videogames are for everyone. I mean this in an almost destructive way. Videogames, to read the other side of the same statement, are not for you. You do not get to own videogames. No one gets to own videogames when they are for everyone. They add up to more than any one group.
On some level, the grim individuals who are self-centred and myopic enough to be upset at the prospect of having their medium taken away from them are absolutely right. They have astutely, and correctly identified what is going on here. Their toys are being taken away, and their treehouses are being boarded up. Videogames now live in the world and there is no going back.
I am convinced that this marks the end. We are finished here. From now on, there are no more gamers—only players.
EDIT: This post does not do nearly enough to acknowledge that women have been playing, making, and thinking about games throughout game history. The stats that I quote above about adult women outnumbering teenage men could fairly be read as an erasure of this fact and for this I apologise unequivocally. Women are here now and they have always been here, but they are often deliberately made invisible for cultural, financial, and bigoted reasons. It is everyone’s job—perhaps mine especially given this post—to reverse this in history, and the present. Perhaps the most important lesson to be taken from all of this is that women’s voices are more important than ever: something that this post does disappointingly little to address.