#AintNoCinderella: The Power of a Selfie and a Slogan

Earlier this week, the hastag #AintNoCinderella went viral in India following an incident of a young woman being harassed and then victim shamed. Varnika Kundu went out on the town on Friday night, August 4. At the end of the night, she was harassed by two young men who then followed her when she fled in her car, attempting to make her stop and trying to enter her car several times. She wrote about the harrowing experience in a public Facebook post, thanking the police who helped save her from being kidnapped and urged women to be vigilant against attacks.  One local politician victim-blamed her by stating that she should not have been out late at night.

Public outcry against misogyny and classism was immediate, and only increased in fervor once it became clear that one of the two young men allegedly involved was the son of another local politician.

The viral hashtag #AintNoCinderella, often accompanied by selfies of young women in clubbing outfits, has become a rallying cry by young Indian women to exercise their basic human right to safety no matter what time of day. Every tweet is a micro-effort to battle violence against women, and the overall effect is bringing to light the persistent issues of classism and sexism in a country that had elected and reelected a female head of state in 1966 and 1980.

 

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Choirlogue: The Pursuit of  Freedom in Beethoven’s Prisoner Chorus

O Welche Lust, in freier Luft…nur heir ist Leben!

Over Christmas, I had the opportunity to visit with my dear niece and nephews in Texas. My niece, to whom I as a woman can more easily relate, is sixteen years old and thinking about what she wants to do after high school and what sort of career she would like.

At sixteen, she has a black belt in karate and walks her own path, showing her individuality with brightly colored pants decorated by outlandish patterns.

As we sat on a settee in her softly colored bedroom, she told me that she wanted to be a counselor to clergy and missionaries and their families.

My silent, knee-jerk reaction was “Oh thank god.”

This is a young woman who has surprised her parents at every turn by giving up ballet and starting to collect knives. Who is demure in public speaking but impassioned when with small groups or partners. She is strong with a fiercely caring personality, and I am ever so thankful that she is not tempted to go into any field related to videogames.

She could, very easily I believe, enter into such a vocation and would stand strongly, back straight against the adversity. She can take of herself quite well. But I would never wish a calling in the videogame industry on any woman.

Over the past few decades, we’ve seen the emergence of a new complex artform: videogames combine playwriting, acting, music, and visual art in one performance medium. Videogames have become spaces in which people can feel free to live alternate lives, to experience new liberty by being granted superpowers and assigned epic missions, to find peace in achievement and predictable productivity through efforts which always make a real difference (in the game). Not only do videogames affect our culture, but the industry provides the most enticement and seductive position for a person to go into the technology field–that being the coveted, successful videogame design career.

While technology plays more and more salient roles in our lives, videogames offer a relaxing way to process the stresses we encounter. Everyone is interested in videogames, but the videogame establishment isn’t interested in everyone. In fact, there are structural and organizational reactionary stances towards the inclusion of 51% of the US population– women.

Women videogame designers face endless hate mail and well-organized smear campaigns against their products. Women videogame journalists face the threat of murder and mass shooting at their public speaking engagements. Everyday female gamers face persecution and oppression ranging from the micro-level (devaluation of their talents and contributions as players and exclusion from the gaming community via online harassment) to the macro-level–objectification in videogames themselves as well as organized campaigns to flag their social media and other online accounts, dox, or swat them. Wir sind belauscht mit Ohr und Blick. Women on all levels of videogaming are watched, monitored, and targeted.

Under these circumstances, the pressure to not make any waves as a woman, to not speak up about any microaggressions for fear of larger repercussions and retaliatory action has become the norm. Spricht leise! Haltet euch zuruck. Speak softly. We must hold ourselves back.

And yet the hope of a day in the sun and free air continues. Where women can play (and design, and talk about) games and simply just be playing games. O welche Lust in freier Luft…nur hier, nur hier ist Leben. Only here, only here, is Life, when freedom is guaranteed for all.

 

“When a good man is hurt, all who would be called good must suffer with him.”

Euripides

The Barbie Book Everyone is Talking About

barbie to delete

The social media sphere is lighting up about “I can be a computer engineer” book from the Barbie franchise, so here’s my two cents.

Rachel Zarell’s sarcastic but thorough look at the book on buzzfeed.

Pamela Ribbon’s caustic gizmodo review.

Slammed on Daily Dot.

Book listing on Amazon.

The title of the book Barbie “I can be a computer engineer!” is a misnomer, as the story progresses, we see that Barbie is merely brainstorming ideas for a game, she gets a computer virus, and has to call her male friends to fix the issue.

The quote that sums up the book:  “It will go faster if Brian and I help,” offers Steven.

At first, I thought, “Oh, this must be a hoax.” But no, the listing on amazon looks legit. The book was published last year by an author that works with random house.

For writers, there is a dilemma of which “other” group to choose to promote. You can promote progressive gender ideals, but race will be put to the side in order for the product to be commercially viable on a mass scale. Here, we see a great mixed representation of different races, but gender takes the backseat and put into the ultra-traditional binary idea. Maybe in another ten years we’ll have mass distributed media that shows characters to be intelligent, valuable, and have agency no matter color or sex; even then, we’ll see other identity characteristics slammed into the backseat (sexual orientation, non-gendered folk, etc.)

Overall, it is a rather deplorable example of “female empowerment.”