Sunday, July 22, 2007

Feminist Blogs on Science Fiction and Gaming

Instead of analyzing one singular blog, I am going to post about three blogs that have to do with the issues of gender in gaming that I am (vaguely) focusing my blog on.

The first blog that I decided to post a link and write a bit about is the blog Feminist SF: The Blog!.

Here's a link.

This blog faces the often discriminatory and sexist world of science fiction- in movies, TV, books and games. From Harry Potter to Star Trek, this blog covers a variety of shows, books and "worlds". I think that this is an important genre to cover because science fiction is often overlooked as a "masculine" genre, that there are too many male fans for it to matter what is happening in the world of science fiction.

It's often dismissed as not having enough female fans, so why should it be taken into account? Also, many have dismissed it as being only a "small area" that is a subculture and not important to the general world at large.

Feminist SF: The Blog! confronts the sexist issues and the imbalance of representation of gender within the science fiction world in a witty and researched manner. To exhibit the way they analyze science fiction, I will briefly describe and analyze one of their blog posts.

One thing to be noted is that this is not a blog of one singular person, it is rather a group of participants that all blog in this collective manner. Many also have their own blogs that they may or may not reference on the SF blog. The FemSF blog serves as both a journal and a discussion group.

Another thing to note is that the blog not only covers Fem SciFi, but also takes contemporary issues and compares them to SciFi events, all the while commenting on what this event may mean or does mean for contemporary society.

Their latest post as of today is a pretty good analysis of gender in Harry Potter, but in order to escape posting spoilers in case someone is reading this, I will refrain from describing that post (but if you have read Deathly Hallows you should read that post it is very interesting).

The post that I going to briefly discuss is the post on the post on May 29th, 2007 about Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End. If you haven't seen the movie, be warned, spoilers ahoy!

This post discusses sexuality, race and gender within the 3rd movie of the Pirates series.

An analysis of the Elizabeth Swann character is given, and it helps uncover the true essence of her character, and also, the author of the post gives a few good examples of what else could have happened to Elizabeth's character.

In the first movie, she was the subject of Will's quest and in the second she becomes active, and the Pirate King,and also explores her attraction to Jack. In this movie, for the first part she is active and equal, but once she becomes married to Will, it's all downhill from there.

In the end, Elizabeth becomes the faithful and virtuous English bride, and all is well as long as she remains faithful to her husband, living for the one day every 10 years.

This moral and true English rose is in direct contrast to the other female character Disney bothered to include, the tempestous Tia Dalma (who I personally think is a kickass character and way cooler than Elizabeth). She is a goddess trapped in the body of a human, Davy Jones' lover and apparently Jack's at one time too. But instead of her independence and power being applauded, the movie portrays her with a little bit of if her not being the faithful English rose Elizabeth is a bad thing.

A good quote follows:

"Men describe her as a trickster, and although she loves Davy Jones’ he betrays her because she doesn’t wait for him to come ashore after his ten years of serving her. Elizabeth, however, the white character, isn’t punished for her sexuality like Tia is because in the end she chooses devotion to her more powerful husband."

(Taken from the May 29th post mentioned above)

Basically, Disney chooses the fate of those who are sexual not only by how they express that sexuality (Tia by choosing who and when she wants to, and Elizabeth within the marriage union).

Although I noticed in the comments that there is further research done by the writer of the post and also the other members of the "blog collective", I think this was a well thought-out analysis of sexuality and race within the movies.

Moving on to the next blog, New Game Plus, another sort of collective (although the majority of posts are made by Ariel Wetzel, an undergraduate college student). This blog focuses mostly on the experience of gaming as a female and gender issues within games.

I feel like an important thing to post is Ariel's definition of feminism taken from her FAQ.

"I prefer bell hook’s definition: “feminism is a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression.” If you agree with those goals, then you can consider yourself a feminist."

That is Wetzel's definition, and the view from which she makes her post, which is what I think makes her blog really interesting. There are many blogs on feminism and gender in gaming, but I feel by making her stance well-known and clear, it really helps understand where she is coming from.

A highlight in the blog is a series of posts called: Characters Done Right. The bloggers highlight female characters that they feel the game developers made in a positive way. This is an important part of the blog, in my opinion, because it not only shows that the gaming industry CAN create characters that are female, complex and not victims, but it also helps balance the criticism of the gaming industry. By giving examples of what female characters SHOULD be like, it constructively criticizes the industry rather than just giving no examples of what it should be like and calling it a day.

All in all, New Game Plus is one of the most enjoyable gaming and gender blogs out there. It's well-written, yet at the same time a bit wry and comedic. I put this at the top of my recommendation list for someone just getting into the the world of gender and gaming.

The last blog to be (briefly) covered is that of Girl in the Machine , a "blog collective" consisting of "two girls and a gay guy" (according to their FAQ).

This blog is updated 3x a week, by all 3 of the posters, each with their own individual flavour of writing and topics.

The topics covered are vast and varied, from their latest entry (as of July 23, 2007) on civil unions and marriages within the Sims 2, to the exposure of the "Grand Dominatrix Phenomena" of video games.

This blog is also one of my favourites as I love that it gives three different bloggers' perspectives, and mentions things within games that I may not have seen without their pointing it out.

If you get a chance, check it out, it is a newly formed blog and really interesting to read!!

See You in Azeroth!

1 comment:

Ariel said...

Thanks for linking to New Game Plus & my Pirates post on the Feminist SF blog. It's great to have such positive feedback on my writing and content.