Four-year-old Riley Maida stands in a toy aisle of a department store in Newburgh, N.Y. The backdrop is pink. The shelves behind her are stacked with plastic babies in pink onesies. To her left are hair-and-makeup dolls with exaggerated heads attached to truncated shoulders. The shelf above has rows of little dresses and pastel pink slippers. The shelf above that, more pink dolls in more pink dresses.
In the next aisle, there\’s a distinct absence of pink. This is the \”boys aisle.\” Lined with Nerf guns, G.I. Joes, superhero figures, building blocks and toy cars, it has a diverse color palette of blues, greens, oranges and reds.
Maida looks down the aisle of pink. Arms akimbo, the cherubic 4-year-old with brunette bangs furrows her brow. She looks into her father\’s camera and begins a rant that will go viral on the internet and make its way onto television networks like CNN and ABC.
\”Would it be fair for all the girls to buy princesses and the boys to buy superheroes?\” she says, smacking her right hand to her head in exasperation. \”Girls want superheroes AND the boys want superheroes!\”
She points her index finger and shakes her hand at the pink boxes around her. Occasionally jumbling her words while giving her impassioned speech, she questions why boys and girls need separate toy aisles and why some toys are designated for one gender and not the other. Boys and girls can both like pink, she says. Why do companies have to make boys and girls think that they can only like certain things? Palm open, she hits her right hand on the top of one of the boxes to emphasize her point.
A few aisles over, in the video game section, there is a similar marketing story that Maida has yet to learn. Unlike in the toy aisles, she won\’t find an expansive selection of video games for boys and an equally expansive selection for girls. Most \”girls\’ sections,\” if they exist, are lined with fitness titles and Ubisoft\’s simplified career simulation series, Imagine, which lets players pretend they\’re doctors, teachers, gymnasts and babysitters.
As for the boys section — there isn\’t one. Everything else is for boys.
This article is a great example of gender dynamics in movies, only this time the roles are reversed. The article discusses the Hunger Games movies, and how the character Peeta is actually more of a “Movie Girlfriend” than a “Movie Boyfriend”. It has already been discussed many times how Katniss is not the typical female lead, because she is very physically capable and skilled, as well as more emotionally reserved. However, what has not been pointed out as much is how Peeta is not a typical male lead due to his lesser physical ability, his needing saved by Katniss multiple times, and the fact that he is more emotional and more open to discussing feelings. In effect, Peeta is the stereotypical damsel in distress that is normally played by a girl in a majority of video games and movies. What strengthens this appearance of Peeta as the movie girlfriend is the presence of Gale, who is the stereotypical “Movie Boyfriend”, and Katniss has to choose between them. This movie puts an interesting spin on typical movie gender roles, and it is intriguing and refreshing.
It’s hard to single out the worst part of Titstare, a “joke” app presented Sunday at TechCrunch’s Disrupt 2013 startup conference hackathon. Everything about it — the name, the concept, the presentation, the context — is just jaw-droppingly “no.” And yet, it just happened on a stage, before an audience that, from the video, sounded at least somewhat receptive to it.
Titstare, from Australians Jethro Batts and David Boulton, was the first presentation of the day. As Boulton explains in the presentation, their product, which was meant as a joke, “is an app where you take photos of yourself, staring at tits.” Here is that presentation:
It’s as if the brogrammers seen here didn’t know their audience wasn’t all bros like them. There’s a lot going on here, not the least of which is the broader context of discussions on the public alienation of women in tech. There’s also the exasperating repetition of moments like this at big tech industry conferences. And here, broadly, are some notable parts of the whole debacle, ranked from least worst to worst:
Rejoice, girl gamers on Xbox Live! In an industry first, the sexist behavior that kept you from using your mic all these years is now being publicly decried on record by video game developers.
In an interview with Gamespot ahead of the release of the widely anticipated game Halo 4, 343 Industries head Bonnie Ross and Halo 4 Executive Producer Kiki Wolfkill both strongly denounced the rampant misogynistic slurs and bullying that happen on Microsoft servers. “This is behavior that is offensive and completely unacceptable,” said Ross. In fact, they say that Microsoft bans for life anyone caught engaging in such derogatory behavior.*
A groundbreaking new research study from Indiana University suggests there may be benefits to the controversial activities of “pro-ana” bloggers, the online community for people with eating disorders.
Online harassment is a phenomenon as old as online gaming itself, and it is not necessarily limited to victimizing women—although they are arguably its most visible and numerous targets. A recent New York Times article has given a mainstream voice to the problem and detailed the attack on feminist media critic Anita Sarkeesian, who, after conducting a successful Kickstarter campaign aimed at raising money to examine misogynist tropes in gaming, was in for it. The Kickstarter campaign garnered Sarkeesian plenty of attention, both from the gaming media and those who turned to online harassment in order to silence and denounce her. Her Wikipedia page was vandalized, her website hacked, and a Flash game was created where a player could beat a likeness of her black and blue. Mind you, Sarkeesian’s proposed project hasn’t even gotten off the ground—this is just the response to her planning and getting a decent sum of money to do so.