Thursday, July 10, 2014

Bad Gamer Arguments

For every woman in a chainmail bikini, there’s a super-buff barbarian dude in a loincloth. Why is it okay to portray the barbarian as a sex object, but not treat a woman the same way?

Why do you think Superman is so buff?

I’ll give you a hint: it’s not because women demanded it. If Superman were created as a sexual fantasy for women, he wouldn’t be punching out villains in comic books: he’d be making out with Wolverine in a Harlequin romance novel.

Instead, Superman is buff because men demanded it. Superman represents a male fantasy: the fantasy of being strong and dominant and muscly and virile; of beating up bad guys and getting the girl and saving the day; and so on.

In a similar way, your half-naked barbarian dude isn’t a female fantasy, or a sop to women; he’s a manifestation of a male fantasy. Chainmail bikini lady (mostly-naked sorceress, etc.) is a fantasy of possession, and barbarian dude is a fantasy of being, but they’re still written and designed and crafted with male players and readers in mind.

Are you saying that women don’t find barbarians sexy? (Are you saying that all men find naked ladies sexy?)

No. I’m sure some women are turned on by barbarians, and some men are turned off by chainmail bikinis.

But this isn’t a customized product: these products are created with millions of people in mind, and it treats those people as members of a demographic, rather than individuals.

As a result, while individuals with outlying preferences may not have those preferences reflected in the product, the product was still designed with them in mind — and it therefore remains accurate to talk about “male sexual fantasy”, even if not every man is party to it.

It’s unfair to expect content creators to be inclusive. We should be telling good stories, not trying to check “diversity boxes”. And, anyway, making a big deal out of a character’s gender or sexuality or race would be really, really boring.

Let’s not pretend female characters were invented by Anita Sarkeesian in 2013: Shakespeare was writing strong, interesting, deep, non-sexualized, non-stereotypical female characters 400 years ago.

If he can coax forth the creativity and energy and artistic effort to slide intelligent, worthwhile, significant female characters into his works, you can find space in your RPG for at least one half-decent female NPC.

And if you expect women to suck it up and play along in a game which excludes them, why is it unfair of us to expect you to suck it up and write a decent woman?

Well, how about we just insert some female fantasies? You know, turn some male characters into sex objects? Won’t that fix the problem?

The presence of sex objects in a non-pornographic context is the problem. You don’t fix the sexualization of women by sexualizing men, too; you fix the sexualization of women by desexualizing them.

It’s important to note that “desexualized” doesn’t mean “unfeminine”. Nobody’s saying that you have to stomp out all outward signs of gender and put everyone in head-to-toe potato sacks and treat them all exactly the same.

But it does mean that the chainmail bikinis need to go. (And that adding chainmail speedos won’t fix the problem.)

What’s wrong with sexy characters? Are you saying that sexualized characters can’t be interesting?

No. Plenty of sexy characters are interesting, and quite often the sexiness is inherent to that interest.

The issue is that, in comic books and video games in particular, when women get featured at all, their defining attribute is often sexiness. (Not femininity or femaleness; out-and-out sexiness.) Put in other terms, male characters get personalities; female characters get DD-cups and seductive glints in their eyes.

By limiting female characters to this role, they’re effectively reduced to token status, which both limits storytelling possibilities and limits the extent to which women can see themselves portrayed within games. That’s bad.

How do you know that Anonymous City Guard No. 4412b isn’t a lesbian, or that Anonymous Blacksmith isn’t gay, or whatever?

A queer character who is indistinguishable from every other character — and indistinguishable from a straight, cisgendered character — is not a queer character. Heteronormativity, look it up.

Don’t you want queerfolk to be indistinguishable from straightfolk?

We want queerness to not limit someone’s horizons. We don’t want queerness smushed into a teeny tiny wee box right next to “blue eyes” and “left testicle hangs lower than the right”.

Why can’t you just let me enjoy my game in peace?

Complaining on the internet in no way impedes your ability to enjoy your game. Have fun!

If, however, you’re finding that our arguments are making you uncomfortable, perhaps you might care to examine why?

Wednesday, July 2, 2014



a sack of potatoes looks just like a real big potato and if that doesn’t prove how harmonious the world is then i don’t know what will


Now what does that say about a milk carton?

Monday, June 30, 2014

A brilliantly restored 19th century visualization of U.S. city population shifts.

Well, if this isn’t just pretty…


A brilliantly restored 19th century visualization of U.S. city population shifts.

Well, if this isn’t just pretty…

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Speaking of Small Cities Month … 

US States and Canadian Provinces by Number of City Propers with More Than 100,000 People

This fascinates me for reasons I can’t quite articulate. (West Virginia but NOT the Dakotas? Really?)


Speaking of Small Cities Month … 


US States and Canadian Provinces by Number of City Propers with More Than 100,000 People

This fascinates me for reasons I can’t quite articulate. (West Virginia but NOT the Dakotas? Really?)


Wednesday, June 11, 2014
I wouldn’t mind having a gay protagonist, but does he have to be GAY-gay? Like, do they have to be all cocksucky and gay-pridey? Can’t we have a gay protagonist who’s into manly things like fishing and beer and sex with women? The Internet
Saturday, June 7, 2014

On Dyke Marches


"Why can’t I walk in the Dyke March?” asked the cisman. “Isn’t that a little sexist? Isn’t that what this whole parade is about? Discrimination, acceptance, inclusion? Why are you on this crusade to exclude me?!”

The answer is simple: if you are a cisman, the Dyke March is not about you.

The Dyke March is, among other things, an opportunity for queer women to assert their independence from men. It’s organized entirely by queer women, entirely for queer women, as a show of solidarity, as an opportunity to exist as a community, and as a reminder that male approval and endorsement and involvement is not at all required in order for their community to function.

Queer women are a distinct group within the LGBT community, and should not be erased or ignored or written off as a subset of queer cismen, as often happens. (This is by no means the only reason Dyke Marches happen, but it’s a prominent one.)

If, as a cisman, you support that goal, fantastic! But stay on the sidewalk where—for the next few hours—you belong. The Dyke March is not your space, so leave it to the people who have worked for it.

And that’s the trouble with inclusiveness, especially when we bring gender and sexuality into the equation.

On the one hand, yes: Pride should be a welcoming, safe space for as many people as possible. If you want to come and watch, I don’t care who you are. See the Parade, buy the t-shirt, drink the overpriced beer, listen to the mandatory Cyndi Lauper concert, turn down the twink who propositioned you, have a grand old time.

But in terms of actual equal participation? Yes, some people simply do not belong at certain events, and—in general—we’re talking about heterosexual cisgendered people.

Pride is not an opportunity for straight people to tell us, at considerable length, about how tolerant they are, how deeply they care, how moved they are by our plight, how important we are, how much they accept us: Pride is an opportunity for us to do our own thing. Save the plaudits and backslapping for another day: this isn’t about you.

So this is relevant again. Goddammit.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014


Could I please respectfully ask that you all TAG YOUR MOTHERFUCKING GAME OF THRONES SPOILERS



They don’t make days more exciting than this.

I always found the process disappointingly straightforward.
Of course, there’s always some asshole with stupid questions.
Which just disappoints me even more.


They don’t make days more exciting than this.

I always found the process disappointingly straightforward.

Of course, there’s always some asshole with stupid questions.

Which just disappoints me even more.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014


If all the world’s a stage does that mean you can’t say ‘Macbeth’ anywhere?

My hobby when stage managing: working “Macbeth” into ordinary conversations, just to make the actors turn funny colours.

The Meal Plan Manifesto

You should not cook.

You should not cook because you are inefficient. Restaurants and cafeterias get to make incredible economies of scale: given the same amount of food, they produce more servings, generate less waste, and consume less energy in doing so than domestic cooking. Less food gets wasted, less packaging gets discarded, less food is allowed to spoil… from an efficiency perspective, restaurants and cafeterias kick your ass.

You should not cook because variety is good for you. When you cook domestically, your options are limited by the need to avoid spoilage: once you buy the loaf of bread, you have to eat bread regularly until it’s all gone. Even if you really crave rice, instead. This means that we end up eating food not because we want to eat it, but because we’re obligated.

Which of these is more appetizing?

  • Two servings of strawberries. Just strawberries. You are only allowed to have strawberries, but you get two servings of them.
  • Two servings of whatever you want from the entire salad bar, in any combination you wish. Including strawberries, if you want them.

It’s impossible to offer that kind of variety in a domestic kitchen: even if you have a few options and choices, you’re still going to be hemmed in, and you’re still going to wind up eating stuff because it’ll spoil, or because buying in bulk saved you money, or because I guess that’s what you have left in the fridge.

And that?

That’s a lousy way to decide what to eat.

You should not cook because cooking is very, very dangerous. Now, to be fair, industrial cooking is still very, very dangerous: kitchens are some of the most dangerous workplaces in the western world. That being said, industrial kitchens, on a per-meal basis, are still much, much safer places than domestic kitchens, for several reasons: employees tend to work in teams (meaning that if something goes wrong, there’s someone to help out), industrial safety equipment is far more advanced than your piddly domestic fire extinguisher, and professional chefs do all sorts of specialized training in kitchen safety which would never even occur to a self-taught domestic cook.

But, finally, you should not cook because you are probably not a very good cook. 

I don’t mean that as an insult. Really, I don’t. I’m sure you’re a fine cook.

But are you restaurant-quality good?

Even if you’re a pretty talented chef, how varied is your knowledge? How many different dishes can you prepare from memory? And how many of these dishes are you sufficiently confident in that you’d serve them to members of the paying public?

By this standard, I bet you aren’t quite up to snuff. And I think we should recognize that professional chefs are better at cooking than the rest of us.

And, with all of this in mind, why do we do this to ourselves?

Why do we choose our meals out of obligation, rather than out of desire or zeal?

Why do we prepare our food in this dangerous, inefficient way?

Why do we prefer to eat our own half-assed food, rather than let the professionals cook us something truly remarkable?

Certainly, there’s something romantic about food: about taking the time to make something delicious for those you love. But there’s nothing wrong with having hobbies, is there? I’m not opposed to your making your special cake for special occasions, or having some comfort food ready when you’re feeling blue, or treating your lover to something truly remarkable on your anniversary. People still make wax candles; people still knit; people still brew their own wine and beer; and people can still cook. There’s nothing wrong with that.

But on the other hand, is there any romance in instant ramen?

Is there any romance in “Well, I don’t really want to eat this, but it expires tomorrow, so…”?

Is there any romance in eating ehhh-quality food which doesn’t particularly interest us out of some weird sort of obligation and misplaced sense of pride?

Or are we, perhaps, missing out on culinary delights which already exist?