Friday, January 27, 2012

Links of note

Right- so I've fallen behind in news posts because being "funemployed" means that I spend way too much time on Lamebook and not enough time engaging in important issues. Gotta love it! So here's my attempt to put on my grown-up pants and get back into the swing of things.

First, I've got a heartbreaking piece from Janell Burley Hoffman about fat-shaming and her seven-year-old daughter, which is a quick peek into the challenges parents face when raising their kids in a culture that makes it okay to shame bodies. As a non-parent, I don't have to respond to my young daughter's desire to have a flat stomach, but this piece raises questions for me about my language and what I am and am not modeling for young women in my life. How can all of us be more conscious of our words and gestures so that young girls- young people- don't grow up with the same prejudices and self-loathing that so many of us did?

Along the same lines, Heather Cromarty has a few choice words for the Marilyn memes out there. While I can see how easy it is to reduce Marilyn Monroe to her appearance- that's what we do with famous women, right? Especially the ones who were typecast as sex symbols- it's important to take the time to break down what exactly we're saying when we make the claims we make (especially the ones in these memes).

Next up, an informal study by Becky Chambers raises some interesting points about sex and gender representations and choices in online roleplaying games. My partner was actually the first one to send me this link, and the subject is something we've discussed repeatedly over the course of our relationship (we're both nerds). Basically, it can be summarized as "lots of cis guys like to play female characters in games." What makes this article so cool is that the author gets some feedback as to why, and it's more than just "if I'm going to look at a character on a screen for six hours, I want it to be a hot female." No really, it is. It's a long article, but worth reading as it breaks down not only the responses of the players but also the gendexing of the game developers.

Finally, this piece about Cynthia Nixon's recent remarks on her sexuality left me speechless with awe. The "choice vs. born this way" argument about sexuality has always left me a bit uncomfortable because each side has its openings for bigotry and persecution (nouveau eugenics, anyone?) and it seemed like a waste of energy. Who cares why anyone is or isn't gay? Nixon does a beautiful job of articulating this sentiment and illustrating it with her own experience, so I highly recommend that you check it out. If you're too lazy to click the link, I leave you with this quote:
I understand that for many people it’s not, but for me it’s a choice, and you don’t get to define my gayness for me. A certain section of our community is very concerned that it not be seen as a choice, because if it’s a choice, then we could opt out. I say it doesn’t matter if we flew here or we swam here, it matters that we are here and we are one group and let us stop trying to make a litmus test for who is considered gay and who is not. Why can’t it be a choice? Why is that any less legitimate? It seems we’re just ceding this point to bigots who are demanding it, and I don’t think that they should define the terms of the debate.
That is all.

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