Maxim’s “gamer girl” competition

Promotional girls for Xbox - making us girls look dumb.

As my American followers will know, Maxim are currently running a “gamer girl” competition. The winner will get a photo-shoot in the magazine and get to represent female gamers everywhere. Will Luton quite rightly wrote a disapproving article on the contest, stating it was showing that, yet again, for females to get ahead they have to take their kit off. And I agree, as you know from my previous posts I hugely disagree with taking your clothes off to get ahead but here’s something that may shock you.

I was going to enter the contest. Naturally, it’s for US residents only so I was slightly disappointed. ‘But you, a feminist, why would you enter!?’ Well, it was mainly going to be an experiment – i.e see how many votes I could get without showing any flesh. But it was also, partly to show what a real girl gamer looked like to the rest of the public. By “real girl gamer” I mean, your average girl next door who plays games, which is what I am. I’m not a model and I never will be, I’m not attractive enough, or maybe I should say, I’m not stereotypically what men find attractive. I’m no Jessica Nigri.

I was voting for someone I support yesterday, a gamer called Starslay3r. She made a youtube video calling out to her thousands of followers to vote for her because she’s a professional gamer (it’s true) who has been, and would be, a great spokesperson and promises not to take her clothes off. I hope this girl wins, I really do because I know she would be the kind of person if, even if she was forced, would flat-out refuse to do bikini shots if Maxim asked her to. At least, I hope she would anyway. If a girl like this wins, who’s fit to do the job and represent us girls properly I will be glad. There are however, a lot of girls on there who are squishing their boobs together for votes, literally. Some girls even have innocent pictures as their main image but when you go into their profile, their other pictures are them in a bikini or pulling down their hoodie zipper to show their boobs. Yes, you have boobs, congratulations so does every other woman here. The problem is, maybe not just with Maxim magazine, but with the girls who enter it who are just as bad – they’re happy to show skin to move up in a contest.

These aren’t the only girls who do us gamers a bad name either. I’m not a fan of Ami Nakajima (obviously not her real name) and Jessica Nigri (who I mentioned before). These two ladies represent certain games at gaming events. Ami represents Wipeout 2048 and Jessica is currently promoting Lollipop Chainsaw. These girls are at these events in skin tight, cleavage boosting outfits. They go out of their way to get male attention, they do ridiculous poses with them and they talk about the games. The funny thing is, when you actually sit down and talk to them, they’re great (well, I can only say this for Ami). She knows all about the game, she works in the industry and she’s, a little too much, obsessed with it. And that’s great! That’s what a female gamer should be but unfortunately when you wear outfits like that, every man in the room is too busy staring at your tits to really care what you’re saying and it makes us girls look crap. We turn up in out jeans and t-shirts thinking – is that the way I should be dressing just to get people to listen to me? The answer should be no.

This isn’t just me being a jealous girl and complaining, if a man can complain about Maxim’s competition, that makes me feel a lot better as a lot of people will see a girl complaining and laugh and say – oh they’re just jealous. This is not the case. A lot of people dislike the term “girl gamer” and I agree it has some negative connotations but I would like those to change. I want a girl, or group of girls, to represent us (and no, not the Fragdolls, please) who are normal girls who play games like any normal man. We don’t need women who look like models, who game in their bikinis or who think it’s sexy to lick a controller, just an average girl to represent us would be great.  Someone to prove you don’t need to show flesh in order to be popular. Is that really too big a request?

“Slut shaming” leaves women attacking other women

There seems to be a new phrase buzzing around the internet these days. It’s called slut shaming. Of course, the term slut shaming is not that new, it was used when people blamed rape on women for wearing skimpy clothes. Now I see the phrase being used for a different reason: Slut shaming is when women look at other women and say “how dare they be stripper/not wear many clothes, they’re representing women in a poor light”, etc. Women’s rights have come a long way, we’re now seen as (mostly) equal in society and we have the right to do as we please. But how far should we take that? Should we be involved in things we feel liberate us yet keep females in sex object category? More pressingly, do  women have the right to tell other women what to do?

Women tend to dress for other women and not for men, so I’m told. Women compete with each and want to look the best, it’s part of nature. On a standard night out we’ll see many women with shorter and shorter dresses, is this what feminists fought for? It’s an important question but a very difficult one to answer. On one hand, feminism has swung to an extreme – women feel powerful that they can do what they want, even if that’s sell their body for money or dress as scantily clad as possible. Is this a bad thing? Or is it about being equal in society. No one bats an eyelid at men walking around shirtless during the summer and men aren’t often frowned on for sleeping around, so surely women should be able to do the same.

Alas, women dressing in such ways make other women claim that females are making themselves seen as sex objects and so women in general will never be taken seriously. What we need to realise is this is not a woman’s problem. It’s a man’s problem. If men cannot see past even the tiniest bit of cleavage then women will never be taken seriously. In nature, the male of the species is often the pretty one, the brightly coloured one who goes out of their way to attract a female. I believe it’s the other way around for us. Women are made to attract men (visually, at least) and there’s no real way of getting around that. Women shouldn’t be punished for this. Even if a woman was covered up completely I’m sure men would be attracted out of mere curiosity. I had a personal experience of this when I was on holiday, I wore a long summer dress, not very revealing at all, and a man thought it was okay to come up behind me and lift the back of my dress right up. Disgusting behaviour I’m sure you’ll agree but it shows you don’t have to dress like a “slut” to get horrible attention like that.

In my personal opinion, I don’t agree with women who do go out dressed in very revealing clothes, it’s not classy and it often shows that you are not happy with your appearance so you need to get attention through what you wear. However, if a woman wants to burlesque dance because she’s confident with herself and feels empowered, other women shouldn’t be against that. We should be supporting confident women because being shallow and ashamed with your appearance leads to all sorts of mental issues, especially in teenage girls.

But there’s a war going on on the internet – those who say women should do what they want (sleep around, wear what they want, etc) and those who defend the dignity of women with such passion. You know what, both those points of views are fine and women need to stop fighting over it. I would never flash my cleavage at a man just to sell a product or get up in the world, if other women want to do that it’s got nothing to with me. If women want to cover themselves up completely because they feel protected – again, it’s got nothing to do with me so carry on. Everyone’s different so you can’t tell other people what to do.

I think people are still in shock – women have changed a lot over such a short period of time. It’s now considered “normal” to see an everyday girl topless in a magazine, fifty years ago everyday women were very modest. Perhaps we are still too prude – is being naked all that bad? But then there’s a different feeling when we look at female models naked (people of prestige or we do not know) to when we look at everyday normal girls with their kit off. It seems wrong somehow even though models are people too. Maybe some women are jealous – I know I suffer from that massively from time to time but then I’m pretty sure no one’s jealous of the fake-tanned Oceana goers…Either way, there’s not much point in slut shaming when things will probably never change – women will always be sex objects, not because of us but because of society and men.

Do the Oscars prove Hollywood is mis-representing us all?

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I stumbled upon a very interesting video that talks about something called The Bechdel Test. The test goes like this: There has to be two female character in the film (with names) who talk to each other about something other than men. If the film fulfils these requirements it passes. Pretty simple and easy. I mean, most Hollywood films must pass this test with ease right? Wrong. It’s actually quite shocking to see how very little films represent women appropriately.

But this theory doesn’t only apply to women, the same can be said about gay people and other races. In fact the only people Hollywood don’t mis-represent are white men. For example, how many films are there featuring gay people where the film doesn’t just revolve around their sexuality or gender? And  in films where there are people of differing races, they’re often talking about white people. The best example of this racial issue is in The Help. The Help is about two black maids who look after a white family. Even though there are several black people in the cast, it only just passes the test because the characters are almost always talking to or about, a white person. Making the film less about the plight of black people and more about white people “solving” racism.

Now we all like to think that today’s society is far more equal than it used to be and we’re accepting of different genders, races and sexualities and yes, having films incorporating these things are good but it doesn’t mean the problem is solved. Out of nine of the Oscar nominated films talked about the video I mentioned before, only two of them pass The Bechdel Test. Two! Now, tell me if I’m wrong but last time I checked there are just as many women on the planet as there are men. So why is it so hard to have just two female characters who talk to each other about something other than men?

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Now just because a film revolves around men doesn’t make it a bad film. We’re not talking about the quality of films here and sometimes it’s necessary to have an almost all male cast and that’s fine. What the problem is is not portraying women enough in the right light. There are plenty of female-centred films but a lot of them portray women in a stereotypical way; Sucker Punch, Sex in the City and any other chick-flick film you can think of are good examples. There are quite a few LGBT films too but many of them only centre around being gay, again, there’s nothing wrong with that but would it kill to have more gay characters in every-day films? For example, Scott Pilgrim VS the world does a great job of having a gay character and not making a big deal out of it. It’s represented as being normal which is the way it should be shown. And of course the same could be said about representing other races, we need to do it more and make it less about white people patting themselves on the back.

The problem is though, Hollywood is still male dominated as almost every other big industry is. If there wasn’t an award for best actress, would women ever win best actor? Probably not. (That’s another gripe of mine too, I never called female actors actresses, that insinuates it’s a lesser role than actor). Hollywood needs to wake up and realise what audiences they’re catering too these days, they may not care but we need to show we care, otherwise things may never change.

The fat, the thin and the real women

The Ann Summers models - which ones of these is "real"?

A long going argument seems to be about what makes a “real woman”. It seems to boil down to this: If you’re skinny or attractive, you’re fake and if you’re plus sized with lots of curves, you’re real.

This has bothered me for a long time. I am naturally skinny. I’m size eight, I still have curves like other women and there’s nothing fake about me. I will probably never be bigger than my current size as this is the size I am naturally supposed to be, and I’ve gotten lucky with my genes. I also have friends who are the same as me, can’t put on weight, but are a lot skinnier than me. As in, naturally a size six. Ever since people have taken a stand against starved models (and so we should!), us naturally skinny people have been shunned as unsexy and unhealthy.

The winner of the Ann Summers’ “real women” model campaign is a plus-sized model and now there are various arguments happening (again). Some say she is not a good role model as she is size sixteen and technically over-weight, others say a big f*** you to skinny girls everywhere as because she has curves she is a “real woman”.

I’m on the fence about this, on one hand, it’s always good to see a variety of women being portrayed in the media. Even though an over-weight girl might not be a good role-model, they do exist and we shouldn’t ban images as such just because they’re not the ideal BMI. On the other hand, you can’t say someone is a real woman solely based on their looks. After all, every woman in that campaign has had their image touched up with the likes of photoshop. Every single image you see in the media has been adjusted with photoshop otherwise the images wouldn’t look as good. It means NONE of those women are “real women”, they’ve all had their blemishes removed and they’re all wearing ten tones of make up. There’s nothing very real about that.

The winner of the "real women" campaign, Lucy Moore

There was a similar issue with Zoo magazine. They’re planning to have an article in one of their issues about “real women” (naked of course), someone stole an editors mock-up of how the pages were to be changed before the final magazine was released. The photograph showed the editors red lines and note about how her bum should be curvier, her boobs should be perter, etc. It’s horrible but an accurate representation of what the media do to our bodies. No matter our size, we’re all made perfect before the photo is released, nothing is real nowadays so what the hell is a “real woman”?

If you’re looking for that, step outside. We walk around just like everybody else. We all have lumps and bumps, we all have spots and skin imperfections, we don’t all own an amazing rack or arse. I’m sorry, that’s just reality for you. Even Ms Jolie isn’t perfect. I’m pretty sure most people realise that, despite the images shoved down our throat on a daily basis. I don’t expect every man I meet to have rippling pecks like male models, in fact if they did it would be quite frightening.

The point is I urge people to stop this “real women” crap. In the media there’s no such thing and probably never will be. It doesn’t matter if you’re fat, thin, young or old. Please don’t critise slim women, they would love to have curves but we can’t hand pick our bodies, we just have to make do. Please don’t critise bigger women either, they exist, get over it. Skinny women can be just as unhealthy as fat women, it just doesn’t show as much on the outside.