Tag Archives: women

What is your “better world”?

23 Feb

Everyone, be they liberal or conservative, want a better world for their children, they just disagree on how to go about achieving that. At least that’s what everyone says, but I feel there is a fundamental semantics issue here. What exactly does one mean by “a better world”? That saying assumes we both want the same thing in the end and that we just differ on the paths, but I think that is a wrong assumption to make.

What do I mean by a “better world” coming from my liberal atheist point of view? Well my better world would be a world where people don’t tolerate corrupt politicians who lie to them, where war truly is the last resort and not the first option. In my perfect world people’s lives would not be dictated by their neighbor’s religion. The government would not institutionalize bigotry, homophobia, racism, xenophobia, or impose religious doctrine. My perfect world would be a place where race, age, gender, sexual orientation, religious preference, etc would not matter. Sure if people wanted to take pride in some aspect of their identity that would be fine, but discriminating against someone for that identity would not be tolerated. My perfect world would be a world in which people were guaranteed the things needed to survive, like food, water, shelter, clean air, and medical attention, but where the safety net was not so comfortable as to encourage living off of it. My perfect world would be a world where people were able to speak their minds without censorship. My perfect world would be a world where the government did not try to control your body, be it what drugs you put into it, or when you decide to start a family. In my perfect world the government would work towards improving the lives of its citizens through a strong public education system and strong environmental protection. In my perfect world the rich would not be punished for being rich, but the poor would not be left to die either.

Those are some of the things I have in mind when I think of a “better world”.

Yet when I listen to conservatives, their “better world” seems so….evil to me. I know it’s not nice to paint it like that, but it just honestly does feel like the antithesis to everything I hold to be good and right.

The trickiest part is how they will often use the same words I do when trying to describe a better world, but by observing their actions and how they vote, I’ve come to understand that there is at the very best a serious semantics issue.

I will put this bluntly. Based off of my observations their “better world” appears as follows:

A place world where only landowners have the right to vote, a world where everyone is assigned strict gender roles and forced to conform to them, a world where white men dominate and control every aspect of society, a world where the power of big government is used to police your bedroom and your body. A “better world” where minorities and women know their place, serving white men; a world where the government is the tool of the rich and powerful and where the poor are left to starve off and die for lack of medical attention, shelter, food and water. A world where public education is non-existent and where all the taxpayer’s money is spent buying bigger guns with which to kill people different from the white men. A world of order, control, and conformity, not diversity, change, and uncertainty.  A world where superstition and religion reign supreme, where the existence of fact is denied. A world rife with sexual repression and discrimination. A world where the environment existed solely to be exploited for profit until it was destroyed.

I’ve acquired this impression of conservatives after having watched them fight tooth and nail against promoting equality among the sexes, races, and genders. Throughout history they have always stood against anything that gave power to people other than straight rich white protestant men. They always vote to cut funding for schools and art and to use that money to make bombs. They fight any legislation that would prevent businesses from raping the environment that we all must live in. They fight against anything that would give aid and comfort to the poor who desperately need it, yet they will die defending the richest millionaires in the country. They always seem to fight against immigrants and anyone who is not white. They fight to enforce and institutionalize discrimination, they fight to enable big government to tell you who to love, who to have sex with, when to have children, where to go to church, what to read/watch/listen to in the media, and what to put into your body. They do all this while chanting “personal liberties” with a straight face. They claim to love democracy and yet they cheer people like Joyce Kaufman when they say “If ballots don’t work, bullets will!” and people like Ann Coulter when they say “We need to put more journalists in jail!” A better world would be one where people resorted to murder if they lost an election; where freedom of speech was non-existent and journalists who disagreed with you were thrown in jail??? Sure Kaufman and Coulter are just two people, but they do not exist in a vacuum. Their ideas have sway with a large group of people in the conservative party.

It just feels evil to me, pure evil. I’m not saying that conservatives are evil, I know plenty who are honest genuinely nice people, but I’m very puzzled as to why they think this would be a “better world”. I feel like I’d end up trying to argue axioms with them like suffering is bad.

Age old confusion over relationships

24 Dec

As usual with these types of entries, I should be asleep but I can’t stop pondering this. I know this might come across as kind of weird, but I honestly don’t care, I just want to know.

Something’s been puzzling me lately. I’ve never had a girl who was just head over heals for me. Maybe I have, perhaps some ex girlfriends of mine were at one point and I just have a pessimistic confirmation bias; I don’t know, but it just feels that way.

What brought this on? Well I just recently talked to one of my old friends and she mentioned all this stuff she did for her boyfriend. It ranged from little nice gestures to more adult themes, if you get my drift. She raves about him, but he doesn’t seem to do anything out of the ordinary. It’s not just her! I’ve talked to other friends of mine who love to talk about their boyfriends. They all seem very loyal and excited to be dating him, and it’s not the “new relationship high” because they’ve been dating for a while.

I don’t feel like I ever get that from women. Ok, that’s not fair. I can think of a few times when past girlfriends have gone out of their way to do something nice for me, but it seldom happened. From talking to my friends, it seems like they are often thinking of their boyfriends and nice things to do for them. I just don’t get it. What is it about their boyfriends that inspires so much love and loyalty?

In the past, I always strove to be the absolute best boyfriend possible. Just ask any of my exes. I would get them cards and flowers for no reason other than I cared, I would cook them dinner and breakfast in bed, would drive them anywhere they needed to go, take them out for ice cream, go out at 3am to the store and get soup if they were sick, I did it all. I was always thinking of little things to do for them, but I never felt it was fully reciprocated. Sure they’d tell me they loved me and every now and then they would get me a card or a piece of candy, but they never seemed as excited about being with me as my friends are about being with their boyfriends.

I realized later that perhaps I was setting way too high a standard, doing so much and asking for it back in equal measure; I was setting myself up for disappointment. I also realized that by doing stuff like this all the time, I was inflating it and thus devaluing the gestures.

Fear not, I’ve since grown out of this. It just really frustrates me because I often hear women say how much they wish their boyfriend would do stuff like this. Now I know it depends on the person, but if the ones I dated in the past said this, they were lying. They obviously didn’t want a guy to do all these things for them. Maybe they thought that was what they were supposed to want and so they said it. Perhaps in reality it was just annoying.

Another thing I have to consider: I’ve never dated a fully independent woman before. I think things would be a lot better if I did. Most of my past girlfriends were when we were both in high school. I was always the only one who could drive and had a car. I dated one girl for three years in college, but again, I was the one with the car. I was constantly taking care of her and driving her places. I’ve noticed that, in all of my past relationships, I’ve always been the one doing the leg work, going to the girl. Only twice in my entire life has a girl I’ve been dating driven across town, or further, to my house to see me. I saw the same pattern online as I aimlessly browsed through dating sites, looking at profiles and messaging people. Why am I always going after them? Why am I always initiating first contact, yet I never receive first contact messages myself? Why is it not the other way around? Those guys my friends are dating don’t seem to do anything, and yet the women go out of their way to be with them. Why can’t I inspire the same kind of loyalty and excitement?

This just really confuses me. I know this isn’t supposed to be something you ask out loud in public, that you’re just supposed to “know,” but I honestly don’t care. Perhaps that’s paradoxically attractive, whatever.

Perhaps things will be better when I finally date a woman who’s living on her own, earning her own money, and has a car. Perhaps then I’ll find somebody who’s willing to put an equal amount of time, energy, and money into being with me. I’m tired of always being the one doing the majority of the work to keep a relationship going.

Bechdel Test for Video Games?

19 Dec

The other day I read an interesting review of the new Tron movie by Ashley F Miller. In her review Ashley mentioned the Bechdel test. What is the Bechdel test you ask? It’s simple:

This got me thinking, what about a Bechdel test for video games? I searched around but couldn’t find anything much besides this blog post by .tiff.

My question is this: how would the Behdel test apply to video games? Would it need to be modified? .tiff points out that one of the biggest ways video games differ from movies is in the player’s control of the character. Whereas in a movie we can only sit and wait for two women to talk to each other about something other than a man, in a video game it’s up to the player to make that interaction happen. This then brings up the issue of whether or not the game developers make it necessary to talk to a named woman about something other than a man in order to advance the story, or not.

Someone in the comments of .tiff’s blog post also brought up the point that many video games don’t have much talking at all, at least not by the main protagonist. How would this affect the Bechdel test when applied to video games?

What about video games that have female main characters? How would this affect the test if you had the ability to choose to play as a female or if you were required to play as a female? RPGs like Oblivion, Mass Effect, and Dragon Age let you choose to play as a woman, whereas other games like Portal, Bayonetta, and Mirror’s Edge require you to play a woman. Should these be counted differently? Should one be weighted more heavily than the other?

I think it’s important to keep in mind that the Bechdel test is only about gauging the involvement of women, not about the portrayal of women. I’m tempted to ask questions about how the video game has women dressed, how their bodies are built (are they normal people or super sexualized?) and whether or not they need rescuing in some capacity. (sidenote, if you play as a female in the Mass Effect series, there are a lot of times you have to rescue the helpless male, which I find extremely refreshing)

I think recent RPGs have really been doing a good job as far as including women goes. Games like the ones I mentioned above have a lot of female characters in them, with a bunch of quest important named females. (Not to mention the fact that you can play as a female, and in the newer RPGs can engage in relations with NPCs without regard to the gender binary) However, this still brings us back to the question of whether or not the bar should be at different levels for different genres of games. RPGs need a good amount of women in them to create a realistic world feel. (Because, surprise, women make up half the population in the real world) Should a game like that really be weighted the same as say an FPS that has a large female presence? Should the game developers of an FPS get more credit for including women in a genre largely devoid of them? (Whereas women are standard in RGPs)


I don’t get religious women

1 Dec

I seriously can’t understand them. Well I take that back. I can sort of understand liberal religious women and the ones that are into “woo,” but I can’t for the life of me understand the more conservative/fundamentalist ones.

Conservative religion is the bastion of misogyny, patriarchy, and chauvinism. In the name of all that is good, how can you submit to that!?!? Conservative religion views you as chattel! I am not being metaphoric there, you are literally viewed as property to be bought and sold. You are simply a beast who’s sole purpose is to provide a man with free labor and heirs. If you die in the process, he just goes out and buys a new one from some other man.

They tell you that you’re sinful, abnormal, unclean, and unworthy. How can’t you take that? How can you accept that?

They strip you of your humanity, your chance at an education, and your dominion over your body. You are an object, a piece of meat, a slave.  Your duty is to raise more children, and if they be daughters, to tear away their person-hood as well.

You must dress modestly and cover your head to show you are “under control.” In some religions you must cover your entire body, least a man sees a glimpse of skin and rapes you, at which point it would be your fault and your execution by stoning swift.

You are not allowed a voice or even a mind of your own. You are to serve in silent submission.

Now I know there are varying degrees in which conservative religious women live like this, but these views are still at the heart of how they live their lives. I just can’t fathom how such a thing can be so popular with women. Women tend to be more religious than men, as a whole. Now I know some women just attend religious services for the community support and because they believe it’s necessary for their children to be healthy moral individuals, but it still doesn’t explain how they manage to ignore this. (Or why they accept such horrible treatment)

I’m just at a complete loss. I would think women would recognize these views as abhorrent, yet conservative religion is very popular with women. Is it brainwashing? Masochism? What?

Should feminism include men?

30 Nov

The other day I visited a thread on an atheist website about feminism and the role of men. It was a very interesting discussion, with most people agreeing that men can be feminists and help, but their was one particular poster who would have nothing to do with it. To her, feminism was solely about women and improving their situation, no men allowed.

At the same time another woman, who disagreed with this poster, presented a very interesting article from The Daily Kos titled: “15 aspects that must be recognized in third-wave feminism”.

The very first item on the list states:

“There must be a widespread understanding that feminism does apply to men. Therefore, men who stand up for feminist issues may, and should, be identified as feminist. It is counterproductive and hypocritical to discuss gender equality while simultaneously creating a double standard towards males who share feminist values.”

The author then goes on to say that feminists can come from any walk of life, men included, and that feminism is inclusive, not exclusive.

Back to the thread. The lady who started the thread then got into an argument with the “no men allowed” poster over the goals of feminism. To the OP, feminism, while it may have began as a movement directed at undoing the wrongs done to women, has now morphed into fighting for gender equality across the board, men included. According to the OP, the feminist should not only be concerned with fighting the strict gender roles society imposes on women, but the roles imposed on men as well.

As mentioned earlier, the “no men allowed” poster would have none of it. “If that’s what feminism has become, then I guess I’m not a feminist anymore.” Her goal seemed decidedly set on retribution as opposed to making things better for everybody.

For the longest time I was scared to say anything on feminism for fear of running into this person. For the longest time I questioned whether, as a man, I had any right to have an opinion on feminism, much less voice that opinion. I felt like when feminism was being discussed by women, I had to sit in the corner like a child and keep my mouth shut. After all, I was the enemy.

But you know what? I realized something the other day. Men do have an important role to play in feminism. If feminism is going to have any shot of changing society and gaining equality for women, it’s going to have to include men.

Now let me be crystal clear. I am not saying women are dependent on men to do anything. What I am talking about is the simple reality of how movements work.

In order for a minority to achieve something, it needs the help of the majority. It doesn’t matter who the minority and majority are. Blacks could not get the civil rights acts passed without the help of white legislators. Gays could not get anti-homosexuality laws repealed without the help of straight allies. Atheists will be unable to get the separation of church and state enforced without the help of their theist allies. This is a fact of how things get done.

Women may not be a minority population wise, but unfortunately in every other aspect of life they are. They are a minority in government, in businesses, and in churches. They will not get anywhere by alienating the majority in those spheres.

For centuries male has been considered “normal,” the default. It’s part of male privilege and the majority of men are so accustomed to this they don’t even notice. Women trying to tell them that it is not normal will only have so much of an effect because the men they are trying to talk to are living in a bubble where they see the woman as abnormal. “Of course she’s going to say that! She’s a woman!”

This is where men can have their greatest impact. As I talk about in this post, men are able to break through that bubble and reach other men simply because they are deemed “normal.” A guy can easily dismiss a woman’s attempts to correct male privilege simply because she is a woman, but if a man stands up and says “Look buddy, these assumptions are not normal, they are people too and deserve equal treatment”, then that will bypass the other man’s defenses and stick!

So to that “women only” poster I say no. No I will not sit down and shut up like a child. Gender roles and society affect me too, and I am part of the solution. If you’re interested solely in retribution for something other men have done, then I don’t know what to tell you, but I’m interested in working to make society better for all of us, regardless of sex or gender.

Women who date men old enough to be their father

21 Nov

I can’t take it anymore, this is driving me fucking insane. What is it with women who date men old enough to be their father? (I’m talking 13+ years older) It feels like everywhere I look women are dating men much much older than themselves.

Freshman year in college I had a crush on this one woman I kept running into at the coffee shop. I got talking to her, but she was dating a guy in his 40’s. Next, my ex’s best friend starts dating an unemployed guy in his late 30’s who still lives with his parents. Then my ex leaves me for a man who’s almost 40! Over the summer I find out that another ex of mine, from a long time ago, is now dating a new guy who’s in his 30’s. The other guy she was dating (also in his 30’s) turned out to be married. I strike up a long running conversation with a woman far away who’s having relationship issues, and it turns out the guy is almost 50. And now, to continue the saga, a friend from back home says she’s dating a guy who’s 49.

All of these women are my age, in their early 20’s. What gives? I can’t find anyone interesting, and when I do, they’re dating a man old enough to be their father. A friend of mine tried to explain this away with “they have daddy issues,” but that is not the case. My ex who left me for the older man has an amazing dad and a very great, supportive family. Another friend tried to tell me “well they just want someone more mature.” Also not entirely the case. Are their very immature 20 something men? Of course! There are plenty, but there are also very mature 20 something men, I count myself as one of them. I guess I’m just bitter, but I hope the trend is still popular when I’m old. Maybe then I can date someone, even if she’s young enough to be my daughter. /sarcasm

Roleplaying as a woman

14 Nov

Whenever I get the chance to roleplay, I enjoy being a female character. I’m a straight male and I’ve very comfortable in my gender and sex; I just enjoy exploring different gender dynamics. Roleplaying as a woman also gives me a chance to escape the default male privilege and experience a world through the opposite gender. I’m aware of male privilege in this world, and I recognize when something like a commercial or product is constructed in a way that assumes a male consumer, but most of the time all I can do is recognize it; playing as a woman lets me get on the other end of it.

Roleplaying as the opposite gender, while fun, can be challenging. When I first started trying this, my ex, an experienced roleplayer, warned me that she’d often seen guys try to play as the opposite gender, only to descend into very heterosexual male fantasies about lesbians. The characters they are playing are female, but the players and their actions were most definitely male. I try my best to avoid this, even creating relationships with male characters, but I’m not perfect. From time to time I’ll see an attractive female NPC and think “dang, she’s good looking, wonder if….oh wait…” I’ve also noticed that male players who play female characters often have their characters fall into one of two stereotypes: cold bitch or temptress slut. I also avoid this as I feel it is a misogynistic generalization of women, damning them to two equally unfair and unrealistic archetypes.  Trying to get inside the head of a character of another gender is really hard to do, but I feel it is a lot more interesting than just playing your normal self with all your gender specific baggage.

Currently I’m playing Fallout New Vegas. My character is an independent drifter woman named Afya. (Afya is actually a character I’ve played for a while before, but in another roleplaying game. She’s always been chaotic good)


Normally I don’t care much for very gender deterministic clothing like this pink dress, I just liked the contrast between the inferred domesticity and the huge fucking missile launcher.