Piers Morgan’s self-emasculation

I don’t frequently comment on “current events” because by the time there’s enough information out there to make an informed decision they’re no longer current.

But here’s one observation regarding the last day or so of Pier’s Morgan’s triggered-snowflake meltdown over women invading his safe space…

Piers Morgan 12 hours ago:

morgan_1

I’m planning a ‘Men’s March’ to protest at [sic] the creeping global emasculation of my gender by rabid feminists. Who’s with me?

Piers Morgan 1 hour ago:

morgan_2

Given 127k more people now follow me than you, I’d pip down, [Lord Sugar]

Yeah… about that. Dude, if you’re getting into a petty spat with Alan Sugar about who has more Twitter followers, it’s not the ‘rabid feminists’ that are making you feel emasculated.

More (or Less) Organised Thoughts on Sherlock: The Abominable Bride

I promised myself I wasn’t going to post this here because two pop-culture posts in a row might seem a little self-indulgent and I’d be a few days late to the party… but fuck it. Time to annoy some more people!


Let’s be honest here, the concept of the Sherlock Christmas special was pretty amazing. The episode was billed as an unconnected Sherlock Holmes story, set in the 19th Century, which just so happens to feature the same actors as the modern-day adaptation. It’s Sherlock as we know it and also as we don’t. To me, this is immensely cool and, to the best of my knowledge, unprecedented for film and/or television. Seeing actors play slightly reset versions of their existing characters is an opportunity not to be squandered – especially when your leads basically own everything they’re in. The closest I can think of would be Blackadder, where the same characters have been imagined in half a dozen different timelines since the series began.

At first, I thought it was a gimmick. Then I thought it was brilliant. And, I have to say, after the trailer and the first few minutes I was absolutely sold that this was a great idea.

The first two acts of the episode, the first 60 minute exactly, is some of the best Sherlock yet. It continues on good form as quick and witty; the references to the original Conan Doyle works remain as charged as ever; and they manage to take the directorial flourishes, the ones that make the series so interesting to simply look at, and merge them seamlessly into the 19th Century. Watson turns back to an author serialising real adventures in The Strand instead of blogging, the deerstalker becomes a matter of course, it’s all brilliant. Fat Mycroft; win. Molly Hooper in drag; brilliantly hilarious. Lestrade’s sideburns; now that’s the new sexy. The image of Holmes catching and looking at free-floating pieces of news clippings, is the perfect Victorian analogue of 21st Century Sherlock’s computer-like wizardry. It remains a great insight into his savant-like qualities in a way that is seamless with the setting.

It was absolute gold throughout, despite it feeling like a Doctor Who Christmas special (a point I don’t feel like expanding on, however).

thebride

At this point I was happy they did this. I was even coming around to “hey, they should do this for all the Christmas specials and run a parallel series with the same cast”. It would be a lot of work, which is evident from the gorgeous costuming and the background of the episode, but very rewarding if done right.

And then…

And then… a jet comes into land. The dream collapses, and we see the equipment and colour pallet of the modern day.

I confess my heart instantly sank. I just reacted instinctively with a sigh and a feeling that this was all about to be irrevocably ruined. And I don’t mean “you’ve ruined Sherlock forever for me!!” as some pedantic fanboy whine, I mean ruining a fabulous concept for zero pay-off. That was my first thought, and dear gods I hate being right all the damn time.

If Doctor Who wasn’t proof enough, the end of Sherlock season 3 had really cemented Steven Moffat as absolutely incapable of letting his characters face meaningful consequences. They could have put Sherlock in prison for murder. Season 4 could have had him solve crimes and mysteries by remote from a cell. It could have been peppered with his prison-based hijinks for the comic relief. It could have been pretty reminiscent of House, but able to sustain the change of setting over a larger portion of the series before getting dragged kicking and screaming back into the formula.

But no. Sherlock doesn’t face real consequence. He gets “exiled” Just Because. And even that lasts a mere four minutes before a “shocking”, and frankly lazy, twist featuring Moriarty coming back from the dead. That image of a small private jet returning to land at the end of the last series became an emblem of the consequence-free writing endemic in Sherlock and, equally, Doctor Who. Cutting straight to that exact shot tells us that what we’ve just spent an hour watching will have no consequences, either.

It says, to your face, this entire experience is not going to matter.

And for me that’s where it begins to fall apart. It took the sheer joy I had watching that first hour and reduced it to what I feared it was at the very beginning – a cheap gimmick.

It could have been great. I suppose. Though I’m not exactly sure how to salvage a lazy “it’s all a dream” twist. I’ve had a few ideas, but it’s all just polishing a “this isn’t going to matter a jot” flavoured turd. If you re-watch it, you can end it here. Stop playing. Skip straight to the next episode whenever it arrives.

Literally nothing of consequence now happens.

The rest of the episode, even though it’s only the final third, descends into incomprehensible gibberish as we begin to run around in Sherlock’s mind way more than necessary. Instead of wowing us by showing us its cleverness, the sudden shifts between the 19th and 21st centuries are telling us that we should be wowed by its cleverness.

Going into Sherlock’s head as an excuse to be surreal is nothing but… well, an excuse to be surreal. I can only imagine that it went along the lines of “Hey, Inception was cool, why don’t we do that?” – “Erm, because it’s not internally consistent with our own universe?” – “So?”

The point of Sherlock Holmes is that it’s narrated from Dr Watson’s perspective – Holmes is an enigma, his thought processes are hidden, he’s a damn superhero of intellect. The on-screen text flashes of the first two series were more than enough insight into his processes, and just mysterious enough to keep the enigma while giving us a fresher-looking Sherlock Holmes adaptation. The third series was marred by him physically running around the Mind Palace, because it isn’t consistent with the first six episodes.

It was an excuse to be surreal – and worse, it was nothing but an excuse to have Moriarty back.

In the original stories, Moriarty was a one-shot plot device. However, a hundred years of Holmes assimilating into popular culture has raised him to the level of important supervillain. Everything from his rat-like proxy in Basil The Great Mouse Detective to his appearance in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Moriarty out of the hands of Conan Doyle is a Big Thing, so Sherlock has to follow suit. The trouble is; they shot him. They killed him. The consequence-free writing, though, brings him back. The reason and rationale don’t really matter. Just get them on screen talking to each other. Why? Doesn’t matter.

A show with real consequences would have dealt with this more maturely – either by not killing him in a shocking twist, or leaving him dead and not coming back.

Of course, no piece discussing something written by Steven Moffat would be complete without talking about how he treats women. And yes, people who use the word “feminazi” non-ironically can stop reading here, because three words come to mind on this: Jesus. Fucking. Christ.

Can anyone name a woman in The Abominable Bride who wasn’t merely a plot device? Does the show pass the Bechdel Test? Do any of the female characters get real agency? It might take a re-watch to answer that more thoroughly, but first impressions say “no”.

Molly is brought in for a one-shot drag king joke – on its own, not a bad thing especially if you don’t draw too much attention to it, but against the backdrop of moralising about her just trying to pass “in a man’s world” it comes across as brutally awkward. Mary has become vastly overpowered (someone please tell TV writers that isn’t how hacking works), which actually flattens her character a lot – and at the same time she just ends up as Mycroft’s bitch in the 19th Century and a piece of plot-contrivance in the 21st. She doesn’t seem to have any thoughts outside “this is what the writer thinks a strong female character looks like” – something that might have flown in the ‘90s, but it’s 2016 now. Mrs Hudson is… present. The little nods to how Watson leaves her silent in the novels/serials is a great point, a nice little bit of lampshade hanging, but that comes in the first hour when most people watching actually still gave a shit about this story.

Hell, guys, with the amount of dodgy contrivance going on elsewhere (since it is Sherlock, after all) would it be too hard to get Molly and Mary in the same room and have them have a conversation and drive a bit of the plot? It wouldn’t even take 60 seconds of screen time.

The rest of the female characters don’t… well, are there any other main female characters introduced, as opposed to mere bit-part NPCs, in the whole thing? We’ve got tropes galore, sure – scorned woman, hard-done-by maid, another scorned woman…

Even a few seconds of actual agency and plot-driving and thought alone would be a bigger service to women in fiction than 20 minutes of rousing speeches by the central male characters.

So… as for that long and tedious “aren’t women oppressed” speech, the “one half of humanity at war with the other” one… I… I can only apologise to that half the planet for how obnoxiously cringe-worthy it was. You can’t add in a big speech that says “you know, this show has really treated women badly” to the audiences face and then absolutely follow through on that observation.

It’s redeemed by Moriarty (in Sherlock’s head, of course) telling him that this scenario is absurd, but by the time the voice of reason (Moriarty is the voice of god-damned reason here!) pipes up, the damage is done. The characters’ voices and the writers’ voices have got muddled together, and that’s the core problem with that bit. Does Sherlock think we should bring women to the fore but Moffat can’t quite manage it? Or does Moffat think we should, but Sherlock is a closet misogynist and won’t let him? You can’t tell.

Now, for example, you can see that in Song of Ice and Fire women are treated like crap – because that’s the world they live it, it’s internally consistent, but it’s clear that George R. R. Martin isn’t endorsing it as a Good Thing, and many of his female characters are solid and strong throughout. He doesn’t need the rousing quasi-feminist speeches to get away with it. By contrast, John Norman’s Gor series treats women as (literal) objects – yet it’s clear that it’s all the author’s own personal masturbatory fantasy of women consistently held in subservience for being women. If you’re not already aware of Gor then just take my word for this, please. These are two fantasy worlds that are as misogynistic as you can get, but the writers’ voices are unwavering in their very opposite opinions on the subject. That’s because they can at least separate character voice from author voice effectively.

In this Sherlock, however it’s… it’s hard to tell. The distinction between the author’s thoughts and ones simply hemmed in by the character’s consistent opinions is too blurred. It fails to make sense. Sherlock hasn’t gone on massive pro-women rants before, he’s hardly the kind to care about that sort of thing, so it’s out of character to make a rousing speech. Ditto with Mycroft – these guys are analytical engines not social crusaders. But… does the author’s voice really come across as pro-women, or just plain patronising? Or is it pro-women rendered patronising by the characterisation? We don’t know, all we can say is that it definitely comes across as exceptionally awkward.

Moffat has a track record of being completely unable to treat women like humans. We know this. This has been done to death before. Throwing that prior knowledge into the mix, the whole thing becomes an absolutely confused, muddled mess in its message. You simply can’t try to make a message that says “but women should be treated equally” and put the focus on a man as the only one to say it out loud, in a way that’s heard, while the women saying it are reduced to well-worn, one-line tropes. And those one-liners aren’t terrible, I should add, since they come across as very knowing and good nods to modern television misogyny and the sexism of the Victorian era. Importantly, it’s writing that isn’t faked or forced in any way. Mixed in with the more overt moralising, however, and even the on-message nods fall flat. They emphasise the treatment of women in the series. Put it all together, and that section comes across as the bastard offspring of a ham-fisted non-apology and “oh, shut up already you blasted harpies”.

Now, the “suffragettes = KKK” thing isn’t absolutely terrible on its own, I suppose. The Ku Klux Klan featured in the original five pips story; the point being that the KKK were relatively unknown at the time of Conan Doyle’s writing so it was quite a good deduction on Holmes’ part. The twist that it’s another organisation behind it might have been better if Holmes had initially been misled into thinking it was the KKK, as in the original, a little more explicitly. This is in keeping with the established style and direction of the previous episodes, where solutions from the originals are used as misdirection for an informed audience. However, the uninformed audience is simply the context-free visual comparison between women and the Klan, and asked to make the connection. An whether you’re aware of the original or not, you’re left asking whether the writers are genuinely implying that the suffragettes were a cult. Again, a muddled mess of a message that, in its attempt to mean well, shoots itself in the face. Several times.

It’s really difficult to come to a single concluding opinion on this episode. Traditionally, reviews give something out of 10, or a percent, or a star-rating… but that would be an oversimplification. Edited down to the first hour and re-imagined to literally be a one-off, unconnected special, this would be 10-out-of-10, 5 stars, and a must-watch. But those cringe-worthy bits about women, the disjointed running around, and the fact that literally nothing of consequence or value happened in 90 minutes, reduces it to 0%, and something you just literally shouldn’t bother watching or wasting your time on. The episode is both of these at the same time. Even giving it a weighted average would be misleading, because it’s not a 7-out-of-10 job, either.

Quite literally, this is 80% some of the best Sherlock ever written. I know it doesn’t come across as it, but it really is – and that’s because 20% is the very, very worst.

One Last F**king Time – the Wage Gap Isn’t a Myth

There’s been a recent, sizeable traffic spike to this from Facebook – which means almost certainly some MRA idiot has posted it while flailing their arms around going ‘FLUERRURRFFILLUURRBBBAURRFEMINAZI!!’ or similar. Well, I dunno since I can’t search it publicly, but I’m playing the odds here, and the world has previous convictions for crimes against reading comprehension.

So, let’s go through this one more fucking time.

When you say “the wage gap is a myth” you’re almost certainly referring to the fact that if you take into account maternity leave,* hours worked, type of jobs worked, sector, time spent away from home, distance travelled, duration of employment, seniority and so on, then women earn only about 95% of what men earn, not the oft-touted 60-75% (depending on location).

Great. Have a prize. What you’ve just said is that once you take into account all the sources of sexism, misogyny and inequality; then sexism, misogyny and inequality don’t exist. That’s like saying “once you take into account the fact that it’s a hill, this mountain is actually quite flat”. It helps no-one and shows you’re not willing to discuss reality like a fucking adult.

We don’t need your ‘adjusted’ figures – not because that approach is invalid, and not because it’s mathematically incorrect, and not because it isn’t somehow interesting,** but because you’re not using those adjusted figures correctly.

‘Adjusted’ statistics are for when you know you’re not comparing like with like, so you need to iron out those problems to get a more reliable answer. If I’m working on kinetic studies of a new catalyst I know to be about five times faster than my previous one, I don’t ‘adjust’ for it by dividing its rates by five and declaring “Actually, the new catalyst being faster is a myth! Look, I even did the sums to prove it!” In the case of the wage gap, the on-average, over-all-women, unadjusted-and-unmolested data is appropriate because we are literally asking the question: do women, on average, earn less than men and why?

That’s the question, and that question isn’t answered by “taking into account” anything. Men and women are already like-with-like enough to get answers to that question. We’re not asking the question “well, if we take a lot of shit into account and ignore the sources of potential inequality do women earn less?” – and even when we do, the answer is still “yes”, for further interesting reasons.***

That, on average, women earn less is a fact that isn’t going to go away any time soon. And your pathetic attempts to sweep it under the rug and bang it down with a broom and pretend otherwise isn’t going to make that very real gap close any faster.

Now go away.


* It’s worth pointing out that the United States doesn’t have paid maternity leave like the civilised and developed First World does. So, by the coin-toss accident that says you’re the von Neumann machine responsible for propagating our species, you have to go a year of your life unpaid and perhaps never get that job back. So, Yanks, whenever you’re ready to grow up and join the rest of us, we’ll be waiting.
** Interesting because it can help point us towards things that we can fix to improve equality. Do we shove women into low-paying jobs, or do we pay less for jobs women are shoved into? It doesn’t unambiguously say we have equality. You can see the difference, right?
*** Namely, sub-conscious biases in the hiring process will start women on the lower end of an offered salary range, an effect that has been demonstrated in the lab and in the wild. This proves that even equal-pay-for-equal-work still isn’t 100% here. Now that really is interesting, dontcha think?

A Graphical Explanation of Consent

Apparently, explaining basic issues like “consent” to the internet is like explaining “descent with modification” to Duane Gish. Except Gish is dead, so at least you’ll have his corpse’s undivided attention.

asking for it

So there we have it. Any questions? No? Good. It’s 20-fucking-15 already, why in the unholy fuck is this conversation still apparently necessary?

Yes, You Are Allowed to Say Whatever You Want – You’re Asking For Something Else

Whenever something like Tim Hunt’s clusterderp happens in the world, there’s one phrase I can absolutely count on hearing almost immediately. It’s so unavoidable, so foreseeable and so inevitable that I can close my eyes, count down 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 and hear the words…

“You’re just not allowed to say anything these days!”

This isn’t just some generic wry observation of Twitter. It isn’t some modern social media phenomenon by a long shot. I hear this from all corners, including from work colleagues while they sip their instant coffee and read the broadsheet-du-jour. It’s the most infuriating cliché – a close relative of “it’s political correctness gone mad”, although more likely to be found in natural verbal conversation, whereas the lesser-spotted Politicus correctnessgonemadius can be found limited only to the dry wilderness of right-wing tabloid letters sections.

What makes it so infuriating is that it’s simply not true. You are allowed to say anything in nearly every first-world democracy. If you’re American, it’s enshrined in constitutional law. If you’re British, it’s retained in a complex series of traditions and precedents. You absolutely can say whatever you want.

Where were the people who supposedly don’t allow you to say these things when Katie Hopkins said, in a national newspaper with a circulation of millions, that she’d happily gun down refugees in cold blood? Where were these Thought Police when Nigel Farage mouthed off at an audience, accusing them of being left-wing shills? Were they napping or looking the other way for the last decade or so of Jeremy Clarkson’s existence? And everyone remember when someone went up to David Starkey and said “nope, you can’t compare the Scottish Nationalist Party to the Nazis” with a gun against his head? Because reality certainly doesn’t.

For illustrative purposes only.

For illustrative purposes only.

The world absolutely agrees – you are allowed to say things.  Not “except for”. Not even “within reason”. You can say anything.

It’s what happens next that’s the free for all.

While the “political-correctness-gone-mad-lite” types bark about the long and prestigious tradition that western democracies have for freedom of speech, they resolutely ignore the equally long and prestigious tradition of people being held to account for what they say, for what they incite, and for what they tell others to do. I shouldn’t even have to raise the “shouting ‘fire’ in a crowded theatre” test. Or point out that you can be convicted for murder even if you hire a someone else to do the killing – even though your orders are nothing more than an exchange of words. I shouldn’t have to tell you all about slander and libel laws, which hold people to account for their words – quite literally just their words, spoken or written. These are things you all, including the “you can’t say anything” crowd, should be fully aware of. We have a very grand tradition of policing words – it’s not a new thing.

You’re allowed to say what you like, you’re just not free from its consequences. If you incite violence through your speech, the law and society will punish you for it. If you slander and damage someone’s reputation through lies and deceit, law and society will punish you for it. And society does that because words aren’t just isolated things; they convey information and ideas, and they can cause actions to come about. They’re far from harmless, so society and law treats them appropriately. What might just be a newer phenomenon is that increasingly, although the law still rarely gets involved, if you start making life hell for people who have had enough of your shit – insert countless examples or misogyny, racism, homophobia… – society will now scrutinise you for it. Because we’re realising that words can have a knock-on effect and consequences far beyond the obvious of slander and libel. You might think that the odd off-hand comment here and there can’t hurt, but the layers upon layers of micro-bullshit add up to a real effect eventually. We all accept that lies and slander about an individual is something where speech should be held to account – and so should lies and slander, in the form of slurs and “jokes”, about groups of people. At last, the more progressive component of society have said “enough” – “e-fucking-nough” – and aren’t going to take it any more. We’re going to call it out and we’re going to make a fuss.

And why shouldn’t we? After all, we are allowed to say what we want. That’s a freedom that absolutely extends to telling people that they are full of shit. We reserve the right to say that, in reality, words cause real damage and people need to answer for the damage they cause – one might lament that the career of one 70-year-old Nobel Prize winner has been “destroyed” (insomuch that you can “destroy” a career at that stage), but what about the number of women who would have heard those comments and thought “nope, science isn’t for me, that University isn’t for me, that career isn’t for me”. What about their careers? Wait, are you saying we’re not allowed to stand up for them? Are they just the wrong kind of people? Are we not allowed to criticise outright idiotic misogyny to help encourage them (or at least counter the incessant discouragement), and to stop their careers from being truly destroyed before they begin?

Because when someone declares “you’re not allowed to say anything these days!” that’s exactly what they’re demanding. They’re asking for special immunity from criticism. They’re asking for other people to roll over and shut up about it. They want special treatment, and to be put in a nice padded box where their opinions can get out but no dissenting opinion can get in. They want to say whatever they like and get away with it.

Why do they want that? Ironically, Tim Hunt said it best – “when you criticise them, they cry”.

The Wage Gap “Myth” – A Stock Response

The wage gap is a myth!

Women don’t earn less than men!

The 77-cents-on-the-dollar stat is bullshit!

Thus begin countless posts, articles, comments, editorials and even infographics (some of which are illustrated here for your vomit-inducing enjoyment) that talk about the wage gap – written by people I might start referring to as “Wage Gap Mythers”. I’ve literally lost count of the number of times I’ve read this sort of thing in the last few months. Seemingly endless pages are devoted to dispelling the idea that women earn less than men. Every time someone brings up the wage gap, the Mythers drop by. They’ve been shared across Facebook groups, wikis, websites and comment sections so frequently that I really just want to get a stock response written down to them – it saves time.

Basically: “women earn less because the bigger companies don’t employ them.” This is, of course, totally fine and not an issue nor evidence of a problem at all.

The grand irony of all these Myther posts, though, is that while their titles and thesis statements say things like “the wage gap is a myth”, what they then go on to do is to demonstrate the exact opposite. It’s almost creationist-like thinking: start with the conclusion, and shoehorn that conclusion into any and all facts you can find. Even if the facts outright contradict the conclusion or the logic developing those facts doesn’t support it. I’ll demonstrate how this works by breaking the “myth” argument down into a little step-by-step:

  1. State that women don’t earn less than men (or don’t earn 3/4 of their average earnings) – this is our generic Wage Gap Myther thesis statement
  2. State that this is because women do different jobs and have different commitments and so can’t earn as much as men and generally demonstrate numerous reasons why women actually earn less than men
  3. Absolutely ignore that Point 2 directly contradicts Point 1

If there’s time, the next point is to conclude that the real “wage gap” is only a few percent once you’ve taken all the reasons stated in Point 2 into account. Which is like saying “well, if you take into account the slant and the wobbliness, this floor is perfectly flat”. Or “once you’ve subtracted all the people living there, the population of London is actually zero”. Or “once you’ve taken into account all the people in indentured servitude against their will, slavery doesn’t exist”. You get the picture – “if you ignore the potential sources of sexism, sexism doesn’t exist!”, which I think is the most concise summary of the Myther position possible.

Well, given that a lot of men treat women like shit in the workplace and make assumptions that only the men have important jobs while women make the tea… then yes, yes they are paying to surround themselves with cock.

I don’t know how best to summarise the problems with the Wage Gap Myth argument in a way that will get through to Mythers. Because if Mythers are united by one thing it’s the fact they’ve been tricked into thinking they’ve done something highly clever; they’ve delved into the data, they’ve reached their own conclusions, and everyone thinks that when you reveal something as a “myth” it must be a really skeptical, rational and intelligent thing to do… but they haven’t. No data that you can find actually dispels the notion that women, on average, earn less than men – often very significantly. About 20% less in the United Kingdom, about 23% in the United States (a place still stubbornly opposed to any sort of Equal Pay Act) and 16% across the European Union on average, with a massive variance across member states. The studies are there, the statistics are there, they’re not going away. The Myther thesis statement is just plain and simply wrong.

Women don’t do the higher paying jobs. Sexism? Yes. Yes it is. Women don’t do, aren’t allowed to do, are discouraged from, the higher paying jobs. This is the point. This is literally the point. This is not some hidden conspiracy, this is the actual point. You have got so close to the point yet have still managed to so spectacular miss it, it’s like you’ve made the Kessel Run in less than 0.001 parsecs.

So what does that leave you with if you’re a Myther and want to write something on the subject of a wage gap? Well, you can quibble that “on average” needs to be given context, because those statistics are over an entire population of men and women, and you can mention all the reasons that women earn less than men, and, well… that’s about it. Unless you’re a complete fucking idiot in which case you might say “well, this man earns less than this woman therefore…” but the less said about people who try that one the better.

So I’ll summarise why the Wage Gap Myth argument is bullshit, as best as possible in big letters and short words:

FINDING EXCUSES FOR SOMETHING IS NOT THE SAME AS PROVING IT DOESN’T EXIST

In fact, let’s just underscore the irony of these responses one more time: their premise is “the wage gap doesn’t exist” and “women don’t earn less than men” but because that’s a fact that simply is, these “myth” posts have to explicitly acknowledge the existence of a wage gap and then find excuses for it. The Myther argument is nothing but excuses: excuses that simply wouldn’t exist and wouldn’t need to be found if the wage gap was actually mythical.

Did I mention this is creationist-level logic, here? What part of “the wage gap is a myth” and “women don’t earn less than men” is supported by making excuses for the very existence of such a fact?

But anyway, let’s assume a hypothetical Myther accepts this, and they then accept that they are, in actual fact, just making excuses… sorry, finding reasons… for the gap. After all, women do, statistically speaking, do different jobs to men. They do, statistically speaking, take care of children more frequently. They do, really they do, take on more part-time and lower paid work. So yes, you’re right – whether you’re an MRA, a politician, some random blogger who thinks they’re smarter because they’ve stumbled upon this startling revelation – there are reasons women, on average, earn less than men.

We take a hard job that requires constant attention, dedication and a lot of training… and we pay more for the one that is traditionally male. A cynical interpretation? Yes. But unfortunately, the cynical interpretation sounds like it has a lot more explanatory value.

My laconic response to that? “Congratulations! Have a fucking prize!”

(Does the sarcasm come across in text, I’m never sure…)

Do you genuinely think this is news to people?

Do you really think that this somehow isn’t the point social progressives and feminists have been making for years?

Do you actually think that, somehow, this is an okay situation to be in?

Are you waiting for me to declare “Oh how wrong I’ve been! Women aren’t treated like shit in the world! They’re just… erm… treated like… shit! But that’s fine, there are Reasons!”

Let’s use the word “predicated” in a sentence: the Myther argument is predicated on a straw man interpretation that people complaining about the wage gap are under the impression that women get paid ~20% less for the exact same work. This isn’t true at all. Which you’d know if the average Myther had ever bothered reading anything written by a Social Justice Warrior Enthusiast any time in the last few decades. But I really don’t think the average Myther or MRAsshole or MGTOWer would ever be caught dead doing such a thing.

wage

Literally every article on the subject says “the wage gap is a myth” but then goes on to say “the wage gap is real it’s just… shutupshutupshutupshutupshutupshutupshutup!!” Sod it, this is worse than creationism.

The Reasons behind the wage gap really isn’t news to anyone. No one who has ploughed any thought into the existence of the wage gap needs to be informed of these reasons. Yes, women earn less because they work different hours at different pay rates because of various reasons. Thank you very much Captain Fucking Obvious. The difference between the progressive opinion and the “we more smarter than you because wage gap be myth” position is that we took it a little further – we asked one more “why?”

Why do women work these lower paid jobs? Could it be that society rail-roads us into particular careers? Could it be that men are told they should do one thing and women another?

Why do women disproportionately do more child-care than men? Surely, if we’re such an equal society that the wage gap is a “myth”, then this shouldn’t be an issue, right? Last I checked, it took two people to make a baby (this may be news to people with the emotional and intellectual maturity of the average Men’s Rights Activist, of course) and so why wouldn’t the responsibility be split nearly 50:50? Surely there should be nothing to take into account from this if there wasn’t a social discrepancy, right?

Or let’s take a more insidious twist on that first “why” – Why do we pay less for jobs that women do? Put another way: do we force women into lower paying jobs, or do we devalue jobs done by women? That dichotomy is the driving force that explains the existence of a wage gap – a fact that “Wage Gap Mythers” very explicitly admit to in their quest to find excuses – and neither option looks like it could let society off the hook.

The answers to those additional “why?” questions aren’t straightforward, nor are they easy to admit to, and certainly outside the scope of this post. But we try. We at least give it a shot, which is certainly an improvement on an argument that stops two logical steps previously and assumes the opposite conclusion.

And this is without getting into the research that demonstrates – in both controlled and real-world environments – that women tend to get offered lower starting salaries for identical qualifications (something replicated with ethnicity, and it gets worse there), get rejected at a higher rate and let’s not get started on the attitudes that they can and do face at work. None of that even comes close to supporting the Myther position.

In many respects, Mythers have their facts absolutely straight. They’ve thought about how society affects women and minorities, how it affects their eduction, their lifestyles, and leads to the fact they earn far less than their more privileged counterparts. It’s just fundamentally annoying that they’re so blinded by the presumed “myth” conclusion that they can’t see what these facts are outright screaming in their face.


You may now commence your incessant adolescent whining in the comments.

Are You A Mangina?

So you’ve been called a “mangina”? Okay, you may not have come across this term before, but never fear, this objective assessment will help you all out and let you know if their accusation had merit. Because, seriously, do not Google Images that term.

Please answer the following questions truthfully and honestly:

Are women principally sacks of meat?

a) Yes, absolutely bro.

b) Well, technically

c) No, of course not, they’re actual people. They have agency and feelings.

Boobs breads 01.jpg

Is your main goal in life to stick your penis in warm, moist things?

a) Yeah. Bitches are getting the D. *SELF-FIVE*

b) Like on American Pie?

c) No. That would be pretty sad. What about doing something meaningful for others?

Is the character Barney Stinson from How I Met Your Mother a positive role model?

a) Totally! The dude is swimming in the poon, dawg!

b) “Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaave you met Ted?”

c) Gods no… that’s the point! Do people actually think that?!?! Did they even watch the show?!?

Size 10. Discuss.

a) Ewww, gross dude! Never get up on a fattie.

b) What, in shoes?

c) Size 10 in the US is equivalent to size 14 in the United Kingdom and size 42 in the European Union. Clothing sizes developed in the late 1800s as commercialisation of clothing towards the masses began to take off, necessitating standardised sizing for those too poor to simply afford everything to be custom made. The supposedly standard sizes have, in fact, varied over time although their present measurements were set in 1958 under the standards regulation…

Do you like to use handcuffs in bed?

a) Yeah, stops the dumb bitches running away. Lol. No means yes! Yes means harder!

b) Why would you… never mind.

c) I’m open to it. But both partners’ consent to it is the most important thing.

Handcuffs by Armondikov

Anal?

a) No means yes! Yes means anal! Dude yeah!! Nice ‘n’ tight!

b) No matter how clean the house is, they’re still not satisfied.

c) Again, consent and safety. I mean, sure, some people actually like it. But it’s important to do it slowly at first, preferably with lubricant and constant communication between people.

You see a woman in a short dress walk down the street. What do you do?

a) Tap that bitch’s ass, dude! That’s what!

b) There are so many song lyrics stuck in my head right now.

c) Nothing. Why would I?

A close friend confesses that she’s been raped, what do you do?

a) Fuckin’ slut.

b) …no joke answers on this one.

c) Oh, oh gods, that’s hard. Support her. Definitely make sure she’s okay. Help her report it to the police, go with her if she wants. Keep her confidence, sure, so no going around just telling anyone. And ask if she wants anyone else to help get her through it.

How much sex do you actually get?

a) All the fucking time, dude. Ten times a night!! Yeah. Bitches be all over the D here!

b) Well, there’s Rosie Palm and her five daughters…

c) I think that’s between me and my steady partner, thanks.

No, really, how much sex do you actually get?

a) Okay, dude, quiet… look, there’s this little pill, right? And you just slip it in their diet coke like so…

b) I have much gold.

c) A few times a week and occasionally full-on sessions on a weekend, happy now? And the occasional orgy at the club. And the threesomes with her girlfirends. And this one cool time in a hot-tub where…

Adding up

Okay, so thanks for finishing the quiz. Now check over you answers.

  • If you answered mostly “a”, congratulations, you are definitely not a mangina. You may continue about your business. Just, not in front of anyone else, please.
  • If you answered mostly “b”, then perhaps we need to have a little chat about the birds and the bees before sending you off to college, okay?
  • If you at any point answered “c” to any of the questions, then I am sorry to inform you that you are a mangina. You are a beta mangina, thus say all us Alphas with our Game.

I hope this clears things up.

The One – And Hopefully Only – Thing I Will Say About 50 F**king Shades of F**king Grey

50 Fucking Shades of Fucking Grey. It’s this Thing that we are increasingly incapable of avoiding as the film saunters towards its release date, milking a longer build-up and more hype than even Dawn of Justice has so-far managed.

So I found myself reading this piece on Trolling is Free about it, and it made me think how a lot of people seem to have missed the point with what is wrong with this inexplicably popular series.

The core thesis of that opinion piece is fine, of course: If you’re aroused by the content of the novel/film, that’s okay. There is no One True Way to enjoy human sexuality; do you want it with one person? Ten persons? Even no persons? Upside-down, indoors, out-of-doors? Or perhaps even not at all? None of that really matters. You won’t find many, if any, out-and-proud sex positivists saying not to do something, or not to try something, or to not be aroused by something, or even saying you must try it, do it, experience it or be aroused by it.

But – and this is a serious but – there are some meta-rules encompassing sex-positivity that you will definitely see prescribed and agreed upon. Rules about mutual enjoyment, clear communication, respect and, above all, consent. These rules exist parallel to the freedom to enjoy whatever you like, and while participation is optional, following the meta-rules is not.

This is where I think this particular opinion piece, besides some of the more pretentiously-purple prose, goes awry:

But the focus on Fifty Shades as a proscriptive guide is missing the point: perhaps everything that’s wrong about Fifty Shades as a relationship guide is what’s right about it as a piece of erotica.

A fair point – if the book joined the ranks of most other erotic fiction in its treatment of consent and the meta-rules of a sex positive relationship. But it doesn’t.

There is far, far more extreme work out there, so let’s be brutally honest here; 50 Shades is tame. There’s an entire section of the book devoted to the things the lead meat-puppet character won’t do – cutting, fire, hot wax and so on. It eliminates what a friend of mine – who shall remain nameless – referred to as “all the good stuff”. A quick browse through fan-fiction archives (or cut straight to the term “legendary badfic“), or perusing the blurbs of the average bodice-ripper, will demonstrate this with alarming rapidity.

But those stories aren’t depicted as even remotely realistic. They’re all fantasy and pure fantasy. Published novels will have disclaimers at the beginning saying as much, and authors will often be well-versed in sex-positive or third-wave feminist philosophy. They will write things they would never engage in, but find fun to think about. They skip the consent as a matter of course. They skip over the negotiations and safe-words precisely because that gets in the way of the fantasy. And if the tedious email exchange shoved in the middle of the first 50 Shades novel is anything to go by, they principally skip over it because it’s boring-as-fuck.

50 Shades of Grey, in contrast to most other smut out there, presents itself as reasonably realistic. It’s set in the real world. It’s story is built safe in the meta-knowledge that BDSM is a thing. The characters partner up, negotiate and navigate their many real-world considerations of a BDSM relationship. They are actually depicted having those meta-rule discussions (via aforementioned tedious email exchange). Those rules aren’t explicitly thrown out for the sake of the fantasy.

And 50 Shade’s core problem is that it does this badly.

The characters negotiate limits badly. They navigate the relationship badly. They discuss safety badly.

No one is going to read a low-fantasy novel featuring slave girls and “try it out”, but 50 Shades can, and in fact does, inspire people to “try it out” precisely because of its depictions of a BDSM relationship as a reality. So while the novel and subsequent adaptation hasn’t explicitly presented itself as a guidebook and a how-to, its setting and style means it has the same responsibilities of one. And it fails miserably in that responsibility.

Far braver people than I (Cliff Pervocracy to name perhaps the most useful resource) have collected specific quotes with detailed commentary to back this up. But the conclusion is a simple one to state: the central submissive character doesn’t enjoy the situation, she agonises over not wanting to proceed, she is unsure – and not in a novel, curious way – and she sub-vocalises her conflict while the male lead is frequently unconcerned for her emotional and social well-being. This is average enough for some self-declared fantasy, but in such fantasy the meta-level of consent is deliberately and explicitly ignored. It’s ignored because it’s beside the point and gets in the way.

50 Shades could use that excuse, and join the ranks of countless fictions that do the same, but it doesn’t. It includes discussion of the meta-rules, but fails to do it in an informative or socially responsible way. And as such it is a disservice to the millions of people it may inspire.

Fantasy that has no mention of limits and no use for safe-words is fantasy. Fantasy that mentions limits and safe-words, yet has a character willingly ignore them and another that doesn’t fully understand them, depicts abuse. And that’s why, as smart, intelligent, rational sex-positivists, we’re pissed with it.

Anyway, the opinion piece that inspired this post does conclude with something I can agree with:

Getting aroused by what’s depicted in Fifty Shades doesn’t necessarily mean you harbor secret urges to abuse or be abused. At worst, it means you just happen to get turned on by some less-than-stellar writing.

Perhaps some brave soul should go to the cinema with a loudspeaker and give a real-time advice and commentary on the film. Because actually, the worst that can happen is that you’ll end up in A&E when it turns out you have absolutely no idea how to use cable ties like that.

The Damsel in Distress Trope – And Why “But She’s Bad-Ass!!” Is Not An Excuse

To the two fellas currently duking it out over this post on Reddit: play nice, kids – stop looking like idiots.


Let’s take a look at this series of tweets, where the gaming world’s no.1 boogey-woman Anita Sarkeesian laments the inclusion of a “Damsel in Distress” trope in some video game or other. You know, as she does.


Edit: As I was lazy, I originally hotlinked this image and it shifted location. The gist is that Anita Sarkeesian said “this game has a Damsel in Distress in it so it sucks”. and TotalBiscuit responded with “but men get captured too, so you’re wrong”.

Now, a little bit of additional context.

Firstly, I don’t have the game, and I don’t know the details – and I literally couldn’t care (that’s further hammered to death below) about the details. This is absolutely not the point I want to make. The plot details of a specific game lie outside my area of interest.

Secondly, what Sarkeesian is referring to by “Damsel in Distress” (DID) is very extensively covered in one of her Tropes vs. Women videos. The first one, in fact. Which was released about two years ago. So you’ve had plenty of time to, you know, watch it if you want to know where she’s coming from.

To cut a long story short, “but men get rescued too” is not a refutation nor is it a particularly good excuse for implementing an over-used trope in your script. Not least because it’s not a competition between men and women, and if one gets more abuse than the other they win the Oppression Olympics. What I want to point out is how you go about refuting the existence (or otherwise) of a particularly pervasive and over-used storyline.

Again, because I have to lay these things out several times and people still miss it – I don’t care about the individual details of this one game, only that whoever is refuting Sarkeesian’s accusation actually uses DID on the right terms, not ones just made up. I.e., you should refute what she is actually talking about and not something completely different.

Cue the GamerGator wangst…

What DID Entails

DID tropes have nothing to do with being straight-up rescue missions or who saves who. Whether something qualifies as a particularly bad instance of DID depends on far more interesting things such as why the plot point is being used and, because we’re talking about video games, what you “win” in exchange.

If the rescue mission simply moved the plot on and makes sense, then it might not be DID. Rescue missions happen all the time, and yes, men and women get rescued.

If the captive actually does something productive and isn’t useless, it’s probably not DID. If you give them some agency in their escape they’re not exactly playing the damsel. This latter point is particularly true if your captive is an actual character rather than faceless background noise or part of a crowd.

If you take a quick tour around fiction, rescuing of male characters more-often-than-not falls into one of these not-DID categories, and I imagine that TotalBiscuit’s mention of a female character saving a male character falls into these categories, too.

Let’s consider what DID actually includes – or in other words, what are the dysfunctional and over-used plot points surrounding capture-and-rescue plots. Which bits do we considered negative, and are to be found under the banner “Damsel in Distress”, which is convenient short-cut that describes them?

(By the gods, I wish that last sentence wasn’t necessary, but the amount of argumentum ad dictionarium on the internet is one of the most astoundingly bad things about it.)

So that’s the basics of it. Not just “what is DID?” but “why is it bad?” We’ll go into some detail in a moment.

As you can see from TotalBiscuit’s response above, he’s just re-defining the trope as Anita Sarkeesian might use it to mean something more superficial, and declaring victory. It just means “women are captured” and so it doesn’t count as a bad thing if men are captured, too.

Also, did I mention I don’t care about the game itself, only that people argue the right use of DID? Good.

Consider the following: if the prize for going through the game is “getting” the girl, and the only motivation for completing the quest is “getting” the girl, and the reason she’s captured is just a cheap emotive plot device for no other reason than to get the dashing hero to the gorgeous girl, and her capture is something you have to seriously suspend your disbelief over, then it is absolutely textbook DID. In fact, it doesn’t matter whether it “is” or “is not” DID, those aspects of a plot are simply terrible; overused, boring, demeaning to the concept of characterisation, and absolutely disproportionately levelled against women. I’m sure there are hours of video that bludgeons these points to death, or a ton of other blog posts describing the trope in detail and the non-trivial and non-superficial attributes that make it asinine, but it isn’t exactly something you can explain in 140 characters or less.

So the trouble with Sarkeesian’s point is that she didn’t have the word-count to point this out (something you might term “The Dawkins Defence”). Meanwhile, the trouble with TotalBollock’s response is that, despite his claimed intelligence, he decided not to refute her point using her own terms and definitions.

After all, I need to make clear, you have to discuss “Damsel in Distress” in terms of the actual trope, not just “women getting rescued”. Because that’s my point, I don’t really care about the individual details of the game itself. Still clear?

Further Details

First of all, let’s brush up on the use of the Damsel in Distress throughout fiction in general. Conveniently, Wikipedia has a fairly comprehensive article on the subject. Note the points about objectification of the hostage, the motivation for the hero, the general uselessness of the princess stuck in the tower and so on and so forth. The fact that DID is also a specific a fetish tells you that there’s far more than just “it’s something to do with women” involved in it. Overall, it’s an interesting stock trope in fiction.

The facial hair isn’t optional. That is, of course, a core aspect of DID. If the baddy doesn’t have a ‘stache, it’s fine… really…

However, the Wikipedia article on DID does lack a distinct sub-section for video games (for reasons I don’t think warrant going into) so let’s outline the additions to the trope exclusive to, and principally used by, video games.

And let’s remember, my point is that you have to get this bit right and can’t just refute something that Sarkeesian isn’t actually talking about by taking your own definition of “Damsel in Distress”, simplifying it down, and saying something silly. I just thought that was worth pointing out, just in case it wasn’t clear.

The main thing to add on top of the stock character analysis, which you can gleam from reading general fiction, is that games allow the damsel to act as a reward for the player. The interactive nature of a game is really what makes the medium way more interesting to study than a straightforward novel or film. A game has to be written for the player to act out, it has to appeal to them as motivation, and authors/writers need to get savvy to this.

This is why, back in the days of Mario and Donkey Kong, video games often had the stock storylines such as DID that were totally devoid of any exposition. When you simply don’t have the disk space, or the processing power, or your audience is paying by the level in an arcade, you can’t spend time on the story. Think Time Crisis here – which I think shows my age way too much – where the plot is “rescue the President’s daughter… by shooting all these people as fast as possible”.

This aspect of a character being reduced to a mere, near-faceless, personality-free reward is what arguably is the fundamental property of DID in gaming. Sometimes this is quite literal – the original Mario literally went after a pixellated princess with zero back-story. Sometimes, it’s a bit more subtle. As in, she might even get a name. And if she’s really lucky some realistic boob-jiggle physics.

100 pixels of unadulterated sexual thrill… Hey, someone will be turned on by low resolution.

Okay, so seriously for a moment – you can have a “bad-ass”, you can have a “well-rounded” character. Can she still suffer from many aspects of the DID trope?

Absolutely.

As the asinine and regressive aspects of the DID trope don’t have anything to do with that.

Is she a feckless captive? Is she out-of-character in getting captured? Is she mostly a reward tacked on to make the plot vaguely interesting? Is her capture actually relevant to moving on the story? Again, these are subtle, and just to make it clear, you need to understand these subtleties and points because you can’t simply refute the existence of the DID trope with “men are rescued too” or “but she’s kick-ass”.

It doesn’t work that way, and that’s my point – not any specific details of this one example game. Just so long as it’s clear that I’m not talking about specific details of this particular game, because I’m not talking about the specific details of this game, only the general idea of what DID entails and how you should… fuck it, I’m not typing this out again, if I get any comments along these lines, you’re going in the fucking spam filter.

So once you understand that the core parts of the trope that are considered bad, you realise that “damsel in distress” does not just mean “girl gets rescued”. I won’t go into detail listing every example, that’s been done and it’s not my place to repeatedly prove that it’s out there in the wild, getting over-used, any more than it’s my place to prove atoms exist before discussing novel X-Ray crystal structures.

Can you swap genders in DID? Sure. Feckless idiot of a man gets kidnapped while a woman goes after him purely because it’s her boyfriend. Does that sound like a terrible plot? Yes, it does.

But do you really ever see it qualitatively reproduced that way? Really? I mean, not just the “hey, I found one example after an hour of Googling!!” I mean, like, is it common? Do you regularly see a strong and brooding and deep woman, the one holding the gun on the movie poster or game cover, go searching for a cardboard-cutout man who was locked up by the Big Bad for no other reason than to make the strong and deep woman brood a little bit more and go after him?

Not really.

You can give FFVII a pass because of course Aeris is going to be captured since she’s constantly being chased by Shinra. Of course, conveniently they only ever capture her when Cloud is around to save her, but let’s give it a little leeway. It does, after all, have the audacity to be a good game.

It’s not always a bad thing that must be avoided provided you have a decent excuse or rationale to do it. Aw, hell, you can even play it totally and perfectly straight and ramp it all up to 11 with comical rope and train tracks if you want to go all post-modern and make a commentary on the trope itself. That’s a fun possibility, though I dare say you’ll be stomping all over a very fine line between intentionally regressive crap played for post-modern laughs and just being a complete dick to your heroine like everyone else.

But played without irony, DID is over-used, and it is still sad-as-fuck that this is the go-to option for an easy motivation for Whitey McStubbly to get off his ass and kill bad guys.

Whether the game TotalBiscuit is raving about with Sarkeesian actually involves any of the godawful, asinine, over-used and cheap DID crap, I don’t know. I have no clue about the details of this game. I can’t even remember the name without looking at the screenshot. I literally have not heard of it until this week. I have neither the time, money, nor inclination to buy a PS4 and play something that looks exactly the same as every other game released since they discovered they could implement real-time normal mapping in console graphics. But here’s the point that the tirade from the inevitable mob of ass-hurt Gators and Gamers will probably not read: I really don’t care. Because that’s not the point as I’ve hopefully covered.

I’m going to play the probabilities game, go out on a limb, and make a crazy assumption that one of the plots broached within said game satisfies the DID criteria outlined above, while the other rescue missions really don’t. Why? Because if it wasn’t the case there’d probably be a better rationale excusing it than “because men get captured too”. Hence TotalBiscuit’s counter example isn’t the iron clad refutation he might think it is.

So this is my point: if you want to refute it (and I’m open to refuting Anita Sarkeesian, I have to throw my hand sup and admit I’m not actually a fan for various non-trite reasons), approach it this way:

  • Is the character relevant or central to the plot? I.e., if you replaced her with a bag of gold it simply wouldn’t work.
  • Are there motivations for the player character rescuing her beyond just getting his leg over?
  • Does she have any involvement or agency in her escape, assuming she’s conscious at the time?
  • Was her capture consistent with the character?
  • Is the rescue and the plot leading up to it more relevant to the plot than just getting the hero out of bed that morning?

Although that’s not entirely comprehensive, if you could honestly say “yes” to many or all of those, then it’s not DID. If you can do it for the game in question, Sarkseesian is wrong, and just tilting at windmills with this one specific example. Which, yes, she has an unfortunate tendency to do. And I’m very open to that being the case, but that evidence has not been presented (if anyone can point me in the direction of an adult discussion on this, please do).

Edit: See the addendum below.

A little bit of reading suggests the developers have tried to avoid it, and fleshed out their female characters, but whether they succeeded isn’t really up to them. Again, that’s detail that people can debate over, providing that they’re doing it on reasonable terms.

E.g., not just excusing it with other equally asinine tropes.

A 100%, absolutely realistic female character – stuck in a zombie-infested apocalyptic wasteland and still has time to put on on eye-shadow. Yeah, sure.

Again, for good measure, I don’t care about the details, at all, only that people doing the refuting fight it on the actual terms established. Got that? I mean, I’m serious about the spam-filter thing, I’m not even sorry.

A Non-Damsel in Relevant Distress

Just to underscore that DID isn’t just “woman gets rescued”, let’s ask the following question: is it possible to have a woman captured where it isn’t particularly damsel-ish? Yes. It very much is, and I think non-examples are as illustrative of the trope as examples are.

Take this classic set of cut-scenes from Command & Conquer: Red Alert – something of the high-point of 1990’s real-time strategy gaming.

Woman getting captured? Yep. Rescued by the player? Yep. She’s a bad-ass? Yep.

But let’s consider the questions above as applied to these two scenes:

  • Tanya is effectively a core character that is central to the plot (as far as Red Alert can get, at least). She’s as close to a player-character as is possible in the top-down, faceless-commander format of Command & Conquer.
  • The player is motivated to get her back because you’re getting your commando back. Sure, that’s effectively a “reward” for the player, although it’s closer to unlocking a Mammoth Tank in gameplay terms. This makes her an object, yes, but an object in the context of the gameplay, not an object in the context of the story (objectification in the context of being able to physically command and control a character, which is by the game mechanics non-consensual… games are a little complicated and weird when it comes to this stuff). You’re not winning a date with Tanya at the end, the player’s key motivation is still hitting the Soviets over the head as hard as possible.
  • She features a lot of agency in her escape. She does a lot of resistance, and in fact does most of the hard-work once your spy (who is a nameless NPC at this stage, rather than a proxy for the player’s over-active but under-utilised genitals) has infiltrated the base.
  • The capture is actually within the character’s operational parameters. She goes into dangerous situations constantly, and capture by the USSR is an occupational hazard. Tanya is, indeed, a bad-ass character, and tough-as-hell, but being captured in enemy territory, on a dangerous mission, in the middle of a war, isn’t exactly out of the realms of possibility for people in that position. It’s when your “bad-ass” characters catch the idiot ball, or seem to be targeted with the bad guys coming to her that you’re going to have a problem with this point.
  • Well, the rescue in the plot happens after she gathers intelligence, so I suppose this is about the only point where it slides into DID territory. It’s not, say, a side-effect of the rescue of Einstein or anything else, it’s literally just a new bit to move the story forward for another couple of missions. Although she does fuck up the Soviet’s shit just afterwards, so, fair play.

Above all, though, if you gender-reversed Tanya’s story it would absolutely not sound absurd at all. Whereas, say, Time Crisis, if you were the dashing heroine trying to save the President’s son by shooting terrorists, it might have people wondering if it was a comedy (or shouting about SJWs and making weak men and strong women).

So the Red Alert example doesn’t fall into many, if any, of the standard asinine DID plot-lines. Woman is captured, she’s a bad-ass, but it’s far from destructive or demeaning to anyone. Overall, the scene plays pretty powerfully, and the story doesn’t succumb to treating the female commando like a piece of sex-meat at any point throughout the story.

Isn’t it great that the Red Alert series kept that up?


Addendum 1: It has been pointed out in a comment elsewhere that the definition given of DID here actually makes a few of the examples given in Tropes vs Women or marginally damsel-ish or not DID at all. And I agree. On the one hand, this says that Anita Sarkeesian has something of an unfortunate tendency to cherry-pick, which is noted above. This is bound to happen when you start squeezing details to make a point. On the other, it also underscores that a trope is a fuzzy set, which is sort-of implied above given that there are multiple criteria and no hard-and-fast yes/no membership of the trope. The membership criteria needs to be considered in a more holistic sense than “she does X” and with a slightly more marginal degree than “therefore trope X”.

Addendum 2: A discussion of the individual details in a non-moronic fashion can be found tucked away on r/GamerGhazi. That’s actually a brief but interesting read. Could it be that Biscuit and Anita are wrong in their knee-jerk laconic responses? Yeah, probably.


12 Reasons Why I’m Going To Download Those Pictures of Jennifer Lawrence – And You Should Too!

Following a spate of incredibly blunt posts about why you shouldn’t go hunting for these photographs, I’m going to tell you why you should:

  1. Nudity fixation – the only value a woman’s appearance has, is naked. Clothed? Even clothed well? Nope. No value in that whatsoever. Even totally clad in nothing but a miniature thong and bikini top, that’s not enough. The magic line is at the nipple. Because, you know… erm… yeah. Exactly. See?
  2. Those bitches deserved it – taking intimate photos of oneself is a lapse in judgement. Lapses in judgement like that should be punished severely.
  3. I’m most important – as are my masturbatory privileges. In fact, my ability to fap my ass off to hastily taken snaps from someone’s iPhone takes total priority over human decency and respect. It’s not like they’re people anyway, right?
  4. Lack of consent is hot – and I’m not talking the “no sir, please stop, please…” kind of “lack”. We can get adequate photographs of bare breasts taken with the owner’s consent for suitable recompense anywhere, like Page 3 of The Sun. That’s no fun. What’s really smoking hot is that these were explicitly not for viewing. Aw, yeah!
  5. It’s not illegal – and you can’t make it illegal! Naa-naa-naa-naa! I can’t hear you! Why would you make it illegal? That’s just like an Orwellian thought-crime. Orwell was right, you know! You don’t want to make information illegal, do you? Therefore, I need those pictures.
  6. They like it, really – all quasi-famous people are narcissists. Why else would they have those photos taken anyway? It’s not like they have relationships, or actually have sex, or have feelings. It’s just for them, so they should share it, because.
  7. Pixellation is hot – so what if porn companies were early adopters of high volume HD streaming technology, video distribution, 3D and fully-immersive interactive experiences? That slightly smudged, grainy, taken-through-an-aperture-the-size-of-a-gnat’s-anus look of a camera phone is where it’s at. I blame years of shoddy internet connections, even the word “Buffering” is now immediately arousing.
  8. I’m insecure about my sexuality – I’m totally not gay. Not gay at all. In fact, I’m so not gay I need to run to Reddit right now to tell them all about how I’m masturbating to women. WOMEN, dammit! Because I’m NOT GAY.
  9. If you didn’t want them seen, you shouldn’t have taken them – today is the age of the internet and information. Information is free. Once it’s copied, it’s in the public domain. That means public. It’s interesting to the public and so of public interest. QED.
  10. Because you’re worthless – just imagine them all crying and sobbing when they found out… aw yeah, that’s the stuff. That’s right, slut, you’re worthless, you don’t mean shit. You might be critically acclaimed, famous, talented and respected in an industry but you’re nothing next to my dead-end pointless life.
  11. It’s the feminist’s fault – what do you mean why? Shut up, tumblfag. I’m using Logic and Reason here. It’s always their fault.
  12. I can’t get it elsewhere – why don’t women like me? I’m such a nice guy!

Yes, the above is satirical. Apparently this needs pointed out these days. If the above is a bit much, then there are plenty of fantastically blunt articles on this subject that are worth reading.