philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)

*Mild/Moderate Trigger Warning* This discussion of misogyny and the damsel in distress trope may inevitably be triggering for some readers as it discusses power-imbalances and some violent or abusive scenarios. That said, there is no use of graphic descriptions nor any reference to sexual violence.

The post below is going to analyse some bigotry against Anita from Feminist Frequency. She has released the first of her "Tropes Vs Women" series about videogames now. Personally, I was unsure about some of the stuff about Starfox Adventures (since I cannot help but imagine that the character change in that game must be somewhat related to Microsoft buying Rare - since it would be harder for Nintendo to keep hold of a game not starring one of their copyrighted group of characters), but asides from that I was mainly reacting with "ah, I guess that's right".

Inevitably there's been some backlash. One of the videos criticising Anita (and undoubtedly NOT one of the best critiques she'll receive) comes from a Youtube user called Thunderf00t....

Now it's been a while since I've been made really angry by some bigoted ranting. I've reacted to some news articles, sure, but I've generally not been chasing down internet idiots. I've been a lot better off for it though.

The last idiot I really thought I needed to alert people to was Pat Condell. Condell was seemingly only known on the internet, but he seemed to have a wide following. So when his videos went from annoying and crass to all-out hate-mongering, I felt the need to expose precisely why people shouldn't support him. (He's still up to the same old tricks it seems. One of his latest videos claims that it's racist not to consider all Palestinians, every man, woman and child of them, to be evil terrorists. That's pretty typical rhetoric from him sadly.)

But the recent dodgy internet hatred doesn't seem to come from a single person. Instead it seems to be embodied by a large gang of mostly libertarian internet users who are strangely opposed to feminism and demand protection from criticism if they post offensive comments (on the grounds of 'free speech' apparently).

"Thunderf00t" seems to be a pretty big ringleader of this group. By this point Thunderf00t is pretty well known to be someone your average decent supporter of feminism will be upset by, but he attracts a lot of attention so I feel like he's probably as good a representative as any for this disgusting internet misogyny recently.

First of all some background...

Thunderf00t and Freethoughtblogs

Thunderf00t had a run-in with well known pro-feminism atheist blogger P.Z. Myers (who runs the blog Pharyngula) who is disinclined to accept misogyny, racism, homophobia, etc. on his comments threads. When Thunderf00t was offered space in Freethoughtblogs and decided to use it almost entirely to dismiss women's rights the other bloggers on Freethoughtblogs decided that he wasn't fitting in. He was alienating their female audience and conveying bigoted views with which Freethoughtblogs bloggers did not want to be connected.

Anita's "Tropes Vs Women" series

Anita used Kickstarter to get funding for her project to analyse the history of gaming and the portrayal of women within videogames. The comments at Kickstarter began to fill up with misogynistic comments from utter scumbags and the response by decent human beings across the internet was to donate huge amounts of money to her project. The misogynist comments had made it very clear to everyone just how much of an idol videogames were to these horrible individuals and just how sorely the world of videogames needed to be analysed from a feminist perspective.

Thunderf00t's video "Feminism Vs FACTS (RE Damsel in distress)" and how it completely misses the point of Anita's original video at Feminist Frequency, feminism as a whole, and plain old common sense.

I only came to watch Thunderf00t's poor attempt at a critique because I stumbled on someone showing one of his old videos "The Internet: Where Religions Come To Die". Not knowing it was from Thunderf00t I approached it with a pretty open mind. There were parts that were well-argued and other parts where it was more obviously labouring the point. I noticed that the video seemed to have a very "us and them" stance which appeared to represent the vlogger's genuine stance rather than being a rhetorical tool.

1- Double Dragon Neon

Thunderf00t's latest video begins by questioning Anita's research for her videogame critique. He argues that she is wrong to claim the damsel in distress of the game "Double Dragon Neon" is portrayed as weak, ineffective or ultimately incapable because the game finishes with her punching the villain in the crotch.

While this might seem like a reasonable argument to someone who had never watched the original video, already Thunderf00t is showing a clear failure to understand Anita's argument. Anita's concern with "Double Dragon Neon" mainly focusses on the opening which, as an update of an older game, rejigs the 8-bit classic by showing the damsel in distress character being punched in the gut and carried away in deeper colours, pristine 2D graphics with her cleavage clearly visable as she is punched and her knickers clearly visible as she is carried away. This update of the older classic begins straight away with an utterly demeaning image for women, right before introducing the two MALE playable characters.

The ending where she gets to help beat up the villain in the end is earned after the two male characters have spent the entire game trying to save her, while she sits and waits for them. There's even a part of the game where the two playable MALE characters (since Marian herself is NOT a playable character) can fight for her affection, while she cheers them on in the background. This all serves to back up the idea of women as objects the male characters compete for. Yes, even if the unplayable female character gets to help deliver the finishing blow at the last minute, she's still been completely helpless for the whole game and used as a woman-shaped trophy by the game designers.

Read more... )

Thunderf00t simply doesn't understand the topic he is trying to discuss and yet there are internet misogynists rallying around his video which now has over 10,000 likes. Meanwhile Anita has had no choice but to disable ratings and comments because of an over-abundance of misogynistic trolls. Check out her excellent analysis of the Damsel In Distress trope in videogames below:

(video link)
philosoraptor42: (Default)
I recently came across the hilarious Lindy West when she spoke on the Filmdrunk Frostcast. (She's actually been a relatively regular feature, appearing on and off for a while now.) At the time she'd been called a c*** by Penn Jillette (her big crime apparently being making fun of adverts. Penn's libertarianism couldn't bear the thought of costly advertising being mocked so he proudly did his part to fend off communism by calling her names. According to Penn's fans it's unfair to criticise him for this... because 'free speech'. *scratches head*)

Left: Lindy West (Awesome!) Right: In case you didn't already know, Penn Jillette is a big arsehole.

Lindy West has sadly stopped writing movie reviews for The Stranger, but she has articles all over the place and is regularly writing for Jezebel where she recently published this little gem...

....An old lady recognizes her boob-doodle on the news and goes to visit Bill Paxton on his rock and roll treasure boat, where they make her watch a graphic CGI reenactment of the Titanic sinking (I believe the working title is Hey Granny, Fuck Your PTSD)....

Lindy West re-watches Titanic so you don't have to. Click here or on the image above for the article.
philosoraptor42: (Default)
After this young woman’s father was diagnosed with thyroid cancer, he was told by the doctor to take it easy since he’s a manual laborer. Yet he went back to work full-time, working 12 hours a day, six days a week. She writes, “The cancer still grows. That is the American dream.”
(Via ONTD_P)

This is about the daughter of an immigrant to America. She has decided to post one of those "we are the 53%" notes on a notepad about why it's so great that they, or their family, works ultra-hard for low wages and have a marginally decent to low quality of life. In case anyone doesn't know about this yet, some people have been countering the "Occupy Wall Street" movement against financial corruption in the banks by using the slogan "we are the 53%". It's a reaction to the "we are the 99%" slogan which distinguishes its members from the 1% of the population who are millionaires or billionaires and seem to be beyond reproach even in cases where massive global economic catastophe can be tied to them. "We are the 53%" refers to the half the population or so who pay income tax.

They see themselves as arguing something like this.

The idea seems to be Tea Party-esque, hard libertarian logic that if you haven't got a job you need to pull yourself up by your bootstraps and get one even if there aren't any and stop leeching off of the state by demanding healthcare, a living wage, to be treated like a human being and suchlike. Or something.

I quite liked this comic on the issue:

While on the one hand it shows how conservative attitudes in the US make it hard for them to identify with the movement, I think it also says something about the "crackpot idealist" image the Occupy Wall Street movement has gained. Hippies are all for peace and love, but rarely have a long term practical plan.

Anyway, turns out that the Occupy Wall Street movement actually have genuine demands. Who knew?
philosoraptor42: (Default)
are condemned to repeat it....

Some right-wing nutcase in the US has killed a Democrat and to be quite frank, the rhetoric from the right is sounding like a broken record.

Pamela Geller, who I've mentioned before, instantly decided to insist that this nutcase isn't right wing because he has "The Communist Manifesto" and "Mein Kampf". It seems that all these months of calling Barack Obama both a "communist" AND "Hitler" have taken their toll if Geller can't see the blatant contradiction involved.

Do we remember the nutcase who shot up a Church because he didn't agree with it's religious beliefs? Then do we remember the Mosque chemical attack (against children, no less) out of fears of home-grown terrorism? And then the knife attack? And then the arson? Do we remember the t-shirts saying "Islam Is Of The Devil"? Do we remember the murder of George Tiller (and the attempt to say that this was also two-way aggression)? Do we remember the connections between the Tea Party and British fascists? I mean seriously, what is the difference between Tea Party images and Stormfront posters?

A lot of focus has been on Sarah Palin's big target practice image, partly because it has Gabrielle Giffords' name on it clearly marked out as a target, but also because Sarah Palin has been so defensive. "You have my condolences" isn't much of an apology. Meanwhile Palin is desperately deleting twitter posts that she's clearly ashamed of while asserting that she would never ever advocate violence, as if no one's noticed. It's like Lady Macbeth deperately washing her hands. Heck, I was pretty critical of Helen Thomas (telling Israeli Jews to go back to Germany), but one thing I couldn't fault her for was her apology afterwards.

Lol at this random commenter who doesn't see the difference between using a crosshair symbol rather than an archery target:
"And I don't see a real difference between metaphorically aiming an arrow or a gun at someone"
I hear that there's been a rise in archery crime. It's a serious concern in the US... :P

Meanwhile here in the UK I am pleased to say that we don't have freedom to harass and intentionally target vulnerable people. While there are issues with tabloid nonsense and the way it stirs people up, there aren't any really political authorities who are keen to support the EDL. I think people are now finally recognising that the Tea Party aren't just harmless idiots who can't spell. Still a video of them protesting healthcare reform showed very clearly that they were frighteningly unbalanced.


Yes, this entire post has been almost entirely made up of links to or from previous posts on my blog, but there is a reason for that. I'm pointing out that none of this stuff is new. The ridiculous over-the-top extremist views from the right-wing in America are not news. They've been there all this time. By putting Glenn Beck on television and having politicians like Sarah Palin who encourage these people, it's allowing right-wing extremists to seem like reasonable voices for unstable people.

Just as the idea of government-funded healthcare seemed to viewed as an ultra-liberal stance, I suspect that my proposal of how to deal with random shooters will be seen as, if anything, even more ultra-liberal. My solution is this: Make guns illegal. If you really want a gun license to have a proper purpose, give it to people who can justify needing a rifle. There is absolutely no justification for owning a handgun, never mind a semi-automatic weapon. They have no useful function.

And I'm sorry, but your constitution is not a holy document. I don't care what interpretation you might have of "the right to bear arms". Carrying a dangerous weapon in public should be illegal. Perhaps if it was unusual to see someone carrying a gun around the place, it would be easier to arrest those who have malign intentions. If someone were carrying a gun, you could arrest them. If someone's fingerprints were on a gun that would be reason enough to hold them in police custody. In such a scenario, would you really have a serious problem with gun nuts? It would severely limit the extent of the damage such people could cause when they went off the rails.

But yeah, what was I thinking eh? Americans need their guns in case the government tries to take away their freedom... *groan*
philosoraptor42: (Default)
Today Radio Four's Today programme interviewed Polly Toynbee, well-known Guardian writer and President of the BHA, along with Tom Burkard, who has experience of the UK education system (though notably he's got a strong American accent) and is part of an organisation called for Centre for Policy Studies.

They were debating the recent decision to do away with the EMA (Educational Maintenance Allowance i.e. income support for children in their late teens from particularly low income families) as part of the Coalition government's brutal tax cuts. Polly Toynbee was picked because she's a well-known socialist who is obviously going to be wholly against scrapping the EMA. Meanwhile they seem to have picked Tom Burkard because he's the only person they could find with the right background who would be heartless enough to wholly insist on scrapping it.

The interview becomes rather ridiculous towards the end when he's insisting that children from extremely low income families who want to go onto further education (i.e. A Levels, not university) will have no trouble getting part time jobs because his step-daughter found it easy. Still perhaps we shouldn't be so surprised when we see the website for the Centre for Policy Studies, whom he is representing. On that website they happily brag about their connection to the economic liberalism of the Thatcher era. (More recently they are insisting on the vital importance of marriage in society. *groan*)

It feels like the old libertarian thing which allows poor people "the freedom to remain poor", unless they are lucky enough to get the opportunity to pull themselves out of it (which'll be pretty rare).

This is the same Today programme on Radio Four which brought you the interview with Gary McFarlane.
Interviewer: There are more student protests today in advance of tomorrow’s vote on tuition fees and it is tuition fees that have captured most of the headlines and attention in previous protests. The people who have reported on these marches have been impressed as well by the number of students whose main concern is the scrapping, in England, of the Educational Maintenance Allowance (EMA). It gives cash up to 30 pounds a week directly to youngsters between the ages of 16 and 19 in low income homes if they continue with their studies after GCSEs and, they say, they need the money.

Read more... )
philosoraptor42: (Default)
"The family should be left to resolve it on their own," Biondolillo said. "Or private enterprise - private companies can contact the family and say, 'We heard you were hitting your kids. Can you stop that?'"

(Further Explanation Here)
(Via Ms Daisy Cutter)
philosoraptor42: (Default)

English Defence League forges links with America's Tea Party

As the far-right group marches in Leicester, details are emerging of growing contacts with extremist US groups in a 'war on Islamification"

Mark Townsend
The Observer, Sunday 10 October 2010

The English Defence League, a far-right grouping aimed at combating the "Islamification" of British cities, has developed strong links with the American Tea Party movement.

An Observer investigation has established that the EDL has made contact with anti-jihad groups within the Tea Party organisation and has invited a senior US rabbi and Tea Party activist to London this month. Rabbi Nachum Shifren, a regular speaker at Tea Party conventions, will speak about Sharia law and also discuss funding issues.

The league has also developed links with Pamela Geller, who was influential in the protests against plans to build an Islamic cultural centre near Ground Zero. Geller, darling of the Tea Party's growing anti-Islamic wing, is advocating an alliance with the EDL. The executive director of the Stop Islamisation of America organisation, she recently met EDL leaders in New York and has defended the group's actions, despite a recent violent march in Bradford.

Geller, who denies being anti-Muslim, said in one of her blogs: "I share the EDL's goals… We need to encourage rational, reasonable groups that oppose the Islamisation of the west."

Devin Burghart, vice-president of the Kansas-based Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights, said: "Geller is acting as the bridge between the EDL and the Tea Party. She plays an important role in bringing Islamophobia into the Tea Party. Her stature has increased substantially inside the Tea Party ranks after the Ground Zero mosque controversy. She has gained a lot of credibility with that stuff."

Details of the EDL's broadening aspirations came as about 1,000 supporters yesterday gathered to demonstrate in Leicester, which has a significant Muslim population. Home secretary Theresa May banned marches in the city last week but the EDL said its protest would proceed, raising fears of violence. Parts of Leicester were cordoned off to separate a counter-protest from Unite Against Fascism. Officers from 13 forces were on hand to maintain order.

The Tea Party is expected to be an influential force in America's mid-term elections. Last month their candidate Christine O'Donnell romped to the Republican nomination in Delaware, following a stream of populist rightwing candidates who carry the movement's endorsement. Burghart says anti-Islamic tendencies have become far more marked in the grassroots organisation: "As we move farther and farther away from the Tea Party origins, that were ostensibly around debt and bail-outs, social issues like Islamophobia are replacing that anger, that vigour. The idea that there is a war between Islam and the west is becoming commonplace."
Read more... )
philosoraptor42: (Default)
The blogger at "Atheist Revolution" recently discovered the case of Harry Taylor who was arrested for consistently leaving insulting cartoons in an airport prayer room. This is what his reaction was:
Read more... )
Evidently, posting cartoons that someone in Liverpool considers "religiously offensive" in public can earn one a six-month prison sentence (suspended for two years), 100 hours of community service, and a small fine. And to think that I've always wanted to visit that part of the UK!
The issue here is whether it counts as "in public". Of course, the detail he was missing was that Harry Taylor is a repeat offender and in the past he has left things in Churches, which are much more obviously not public. Now mentioning this case isn't so surprising. The case made quite a stir when the news broke a while back and there's a rather apt response from Paul Sims if you click here.

Certainly my problem here is not the opening post, so much as the comments underneath. They seem to find it impossible to understand that there's difference between "freedom to speak" and "freedom to harass":
"No matter what you say or do, you are bound to offend someone - no one has a sense of humor anymore. To start determining what is offensive to whom is complete waste of time.Just the idea of an airport cahplain or a private prayer room is extremely offensive to me, BTW."

When I pointed out that in the UK the Westboro Baptist Church wouldn't be allowed groups to picket funerals I was told that they like having their funerals picketed:
"The problem is that once you start letting the authorities decide what is free speech and what isn't you've got some serious problems.

"I'd rather have the Westboro kooks have their say. Then we at least know who the crazies are."
"Yelling about fags at funerals is religious expression - that's how they see it. "
"I want the Westboro crazies to be able to picket funerals without being arrested.... Why? Because I know that American atheists would be the first group to be silenced in the absence of legal protections. "

I'll tell you why we'd ban the Westboro Baptist Church from picketing funerals. Because every time they did it, the police would have to be present to stop retaliation. The number of police required would have to be large because its not a matter of worrying about a few crazies. The protest itself is specifically aimed to provoke. We aren't about to spend a huge amount of money so that the police can protect their right to harass and offend. In short: harassment isn't protected in the UK.

So why are people desperate to protect the right to harass in the US? What am I missing?

Also the fact that the prayer room is open for use by people of all faiths and none confuses them:
"If airports have chapels, I demand atheists get their own room where they can watch Dawkins on youtube and drink cocktails."
It's like talking to children who get upset that there's a mother's day and a father's day, but no children's day.... Nearly every room is a watch Dawkins on youtube and drink cocktails room! :p

Cross posted to atheist_snark
philosoraptor42: (Default)
A collection of photos of poor spelling at the teabaggers' protest has the following description:
These are signs seen primarily at Tea Party Protests. They all feature "creative" spelling or grammar. This new dialect of the English language shall be known as "Teabonics." 

You can find the whole collection here. But below are what I consider to be the highlights. (I've also followed each image with a comment from the flickr page):

I was going to honk until I saw your grandma's sign. : (

This is a common theme in the protests. Anti-immigrant sentiment based around the ability to speak English - with poor spelling.

More under the cut... )

ah, sh*t, ah ment tah do this afore ah started drinkin'

What cracks me up about this one is not just the extremely colourful clothing the guy is wearing, but also the high level of concentration on his face as he writes it. It doesn't look from the photograph like he's rushing this sign at all, yet anyone seeing the finished product would surely presume that was the case.


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