Friday, 15 June 2012

Pop Culture vs Geek Culture: I Call Shenanigans

Can we talk about this image for a minute?



I'll admit that I'm missing a couple of the pop culture references here, so let's just work with what I've got.

Top row L-R: Snooki, Kristen Stewart as Bella Swann, Kim Kardashian, Kat von D, Lady Gaga.

Snooki: Apparently famous for being on Jersey Shore. I live under a rock as far as pop culture is concerned, so this means nothing to me. But I don't judge.

Bella Swann: Vapid, personality free, man dependent, in an abusive relationship. Kristen Stewart: Independent-minded, intelligent, hates Twilight, calls people out in interviews over use of the word "bitch". Not such a bad role-model, maybe?

Kim Kardashian: OK, appears to have made a career out of a rich dad, a pushy mum and a sex tape. Can't argue with that one.

Kat von D: Famous for reality TV show LA Ink; dropped out of secondary school age 16. Wikipedia tells me she's a really good tattoo artist and plays the piano, so, you know, wevs.

Lady Gaga: Top-class musician, highly intelligent, is scantily clad but purposefully never sexy, outspoken campaigner for LGBT rights and condom use. If my hypothetical future daughter told me she wanted to be Lady Gaga when she grew up, I would be thrilled, personally.

Gaga, Kardashian and von D seem to have been picked on for the fact that they're showing quite a lot of flesh in these photographs. This seems to be a comment on the fact that in order to be famous enough to be considered a role-model, you have to dress a certain way (i.e. not very much). First of all, this is something we call slut-shaming. A person's choice of attire reflects on their sexual availability in, er, no real way at all, actually.

Secondly, if indeed they are dressing that way to stay in the limelight, I would reckon this says more about the sexist constructs they're trying to break through in order to do whatever it is that they're doing (in the case of Gaga, making great music and making people think about the way women are encouraged to dress in the process) than it does about the women themselves. Geeks, all your comments along the lines of "tits or gtfo" are part of the problem here, and following them up by whinging about negative role models when you see a scantily clad woman just makes you look like a hypocrite typing one-handed.

As for the bottom row, you could have gone through the series from which it was taken and plucked out Inara from Firefly (inaccurate sex-negative stereotype of a sex worker), Seven of Nine from Star Trek (sexualised fembot), or any number of racially appropriative damsel-in-distress stereotypes from across Stargate SG-1. Other suggestions included female Shepard (as a counterpoint to whom every single one of the Asari, who become either matriarchs or sex objects beyond a certain age); Starbuck (originally a male character); or Princess Leia, who, whilst being a total badass, does commit the apparently cardinal sin of baring a bit of flesh in one instance.

Not to mention that all bar one of the top row are real people, and all the bottom row are fictional characters.

I'm not going to argue that the bottom row is composed of largely positive role-models. I know I would love to be Zoe from Firefly when I grow up. But saying that women in sci-fi/fantasy/geek culture aren't subject to the same ridiculous aesthetic and character judgments as the mostly real women in the top row is out of line and simply not true. If you don't believe me, think of some of the examples I've cited above. Look at the pictures and notice how all but one of them is white, and all of them are slender and conventionally attractive. Think about video games - consider Lara Croft, with her improbably large breasts and her new rapealicious backstory. Think about comic books - consider the physically impossible contortions of female superheroes showing tits and ass at the same time, or the completely unnecessary reboots that distort a character concept beyond all recognition. And think about how all those images come from series that originally and/or primarily follow a male main character.

I completely agree that "role model" is a value judgement, and that the people currently considered role models in popular culture should give us pause to re-examine our values fairly deeply. But I absolutely do not think that geek culture should be allowed a free pass on this. If anything, the kind of ignorance that leads people to post graphics like that is a sign that geek culture needs a pretty hefty kick in the butt and a sanity check.

Geeks: set your own house in order before telling someone else that theirs is a mess.

EDIT: To summarise, I give you a graphic that's being circulated in response to this original.


41 comments:

  1. I would point out, though, that Lara Croft is hardly on the 'geek culture' side of the fence. She's one of the main factors behind gaming going mainstream.

    I also don't think Inara - a flawed but sincere attempt to represent sex workers in fiction - counts as either an obviously poor female role model or a character designed for titillation purposes. I'm not a huge Whedon fan but I think you'd struggle to find terrible female role models amongst his main casts.

    And Gaga "purposefully never sexy"? I find that baffling on various levels. Sure you're not guilty of overlooking her flaws in the same way as the maker of this poster overlooks the problems of female representation in geek culture?

    Finally, I think the main point of the poster needs addressing: where are the female pop culture icons who can be found typically in strong poses (arms folded, impassive stare etc) with clothing right up to the neck? Geekdom at least seems to have marshalled a few.

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    1. I will give your points about Joss Whedon some thought. There are a lot of points I would like to make - about how his positive stereotyping in fiction (for example of Companion-style sex workers such as Inara) reinforces negative stereotyping in real life; about how much he overlooks in terms of body image, race, ability, mental health when presenting us with a role model - but I feel I need to research them better rather than committing to a debate I'm not necessarily prepared for at this moment. I will say that I fully appreciate his intent to contribute to the canon of female role models in SF/Fantasy, but intent can only compensate for execution to a limited extent, and his execution has been and continues to be flawed.

      I would point out, though, that Lara Croft is hardly on the 'geek culture' side of the fence. She's one of the main factors behind gaming going mainstream.

      I guess this can be argued either way. Gaming is one of the more mainstream/widely recognised facets of geek culture there is, but from where I'm sitting it's still very much a facet of geek culture, particularly the kind of FPS/platform gaming that Tomb Raider is a part of.

      And Gaga "purposefully never sexy"? I find that baffling on various levels.

      That's an aesthetic judgement as much as anything else. For all the flesh she bares, and for all that she sings about rough sex and the like, I think Gaga goes out of her way to present herself as intimidating rather than sexy. Consider the odd geometric outfits she wears, the content of her videos, and the fact that she does stuff like wear dresses made out of meat. I read her as challenging the idea that scantily clad = sexually available. In the pose pictured above, I think it's significant that most of her face is covered by the sunglasses. And as a role model? She's one of the best musicians out there; she's got a business model that the Trumps and Sugars of this world would be proud of; she's contributing a huge amount to the US LGBT+ rights movement and AIDS awareness. So whether or not she's sexy is relevant only to the particular message that this poster is trying to send about women.

      I like that you point out the strong poses, and I think there's something in that. I think that clothing right up to the neck is not only irrelevant to someone's appropriateness as a role model (see above re. slut shaming) but also not true of vast swathes of geek culture - this is something I believe I have addressed in the post, but to be honest all you need to do is look at any comic book to see what I mean.

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    2. Hi Claudia - sorry, haven't had much of a chance to reply.

      I don't think the level of clothing is irrelevant. It's not that it's 'better' to be fully clothed, but that here it at least speaks (or attempts to speak, through the selective process) to a greater variety, to the lack of a perceived necessity to be part-nude. As you say, geek culture is full of examples of scantily clad women. It also, however, has those who dress conservatively or in clothes synonymous with authority. Taking the message of the poster at its strongest, the question is: where are examples of this in popular culture? We can find the imagery of scantily clad women in all walks of life, but in which subcultures or counter-cultures do we also find recurring images of women defined primarily by other traits?

      I recognise that Gaga is a formidable character - savvy, outspoken, provocative and yes, even intimidating, probably a good role model in many respects. I don't think, however, she goes as far as aiming not to be sexy, or that she succeeds in being a confrontational towards the traditional expectations of female popstars go. Subversive, yes, but in a way that probably goes over the heads of many who leer at her.

      (On the whole, though, I think the poster does push its argument rather disingenuously, and I'm glad you and others are calling it).

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    3. Erk - couple of very messy sentences in there which I didn't finish editing properly!

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  2. - I enjoyed the points you made in the first half, but then got to the second half and started scratching my head.

    - Your method appears to have been - point out why a couple of the top row may not be so bad and then complain about examples that could have been included in the second row, but weren't. If I would have made that complaint, it would have been for a whole host of other 'geekdom' female characters who should have made the cut (e.g. Laura Roslin from BSG).

    "or any number of racially appropriative damsel-in-distress stereotypes from across Stargate SG-1."

    - I have no idea what you're referring to here. In fact I'm struggling to think of another series that has MORE positive female role models than the stargate franchise.

    - Some of your other examples are confusing too. You seem to dismiss Starbuck (reimagined) outright. Why?

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    1. I'm not complaining that those characters weren't included as part of the graphic. I'm pointing out that those characters - from the same series - exemplify exactly the kind of stereotypes that the top row is being criticised for.

      With SG-1 I am particularly thinking of that episode where they land on this planet of vaguely Islamic-stereotype people where women are inferior, and Awesome White Sam Saves the Day. Not the only episode of its type. And, of course, there's Daniel's wife. I'd be an idiot to say there were no positive female role models in Stargate SG-1, but I don't think it gets a free pass. Which is basically my point about the whole poster.

      Again, I'm not dismissing Starbuck as a positive female role model, I'm just pointing out that that's not how she started out and she's perhaps therefore not the best example of how geek culture's female role models run counter to the women pictured in the top row.

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    2. But in that case it's not aiming to primarily degrade women on a continual scale.

      It's in essence a story that could occur in our world. And probably in some places does.

      While I can't remember the episode off the top of my head. It seems like one of the many episodes of SG1 where they encounter a populace that has a segment of our world's varying beliefs. And tackle it pretty much the same way we would with our current beliefs that it's wrong and to try to change it.

      (I'm thinking here it might be the Ghenghis khan type episode, with the two warring tribes. With a little of Romeo and Juliet thrown in from memory, but there could be another)

      The poster is definitely biased. Though I would argue that the top row is less about who's showing the most skin. And picking popular people that generally the different facets of pop culture know.

      Nearly everyone knows Kim
      Snooki is the Reality TV star for those who like that.
      Gaga is The Music star
      Stewart is the Movie star of the twilight movies which have like maximum exposure at the moment.
      Kat Von D is your alternative genre representative.

      The Geek Section suffers the same issue. The characters mostly being plucked from the more popular of the sci-fi stuff. Farscape, Firefly, Star Trek, Stargate

      The poster's characters have clearly been picked for mass appeal in order to get as many eyes on it as possible.

      Though I would question why Princess Leia is a bad Role Model. Because from my memory she didn't willingly put on the slave girl outfit to go traipsing around.

      At every stage of the movie she is shown as being strong and determined. Although with a propensity to get someone on her side (Luke+Solo, The Ewoks) But even when made a slave she continues to fight back.

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    3. I don't think Princess Leia is a bad role model at all - I'm saying that by the standards of that graphic, the person who made it could just as easily have said she is.

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  3. First off, I am unconvinced as to why real or fictional characters make a difference when it comes to role models. (Oh, and Bella Swann is also fictional, btw...)

    You also seem to have utterly missed the point when it concerns Sci-Fi characters. Yes, as you point out, they are slender and conventianally attractive, but their looks are far less important than wehat they are, which is that they are officers, soldiers and scientists, and in their respective fields they are the usually the top guns in their fields, their gender is irrespective. Although you serem to fixate it that quite a lot yourself.

    You can call Seven of Nine, for example, a "sexualised fembot" (and I can see your point to an extent given the dress sense) but she is also, and this is far more important to the "Voyager" series, a highly skilled theroetical physicist, an outstanding engineer and on a path of self discovery that encompasses both the best and the worst that humanity has to offer.

    They are individuals that have tried, they are the best of their fields, and they have strong moral codes, all of which seem to me to be good role models to aspire to. Their back stories involve working hard, trying your best, pushing your boundaries, excelling in your field. Their gender is largely immaterial to the TV shows, and let's not forget the male leads in those shows are conventianally atrractive as well, and all of those shows have characters, of both genders, that are not exactly attractive.

    And that is the real point of this, homour aside. You can have a strong role model that works hard, that excels, that succeeds, that pushes boundaries and tried to always change the world (universe) for the better, REGARDLESS of their gender. They are equal to the men in every way.
    Or you can have a role model that spends daddy's money, relies on her sex, is completely self absorbed, uttertly without self definition and the only thing they care about is their next magazine cover.

    I know where my choice lies.

    (I will give you Lady GaGa though, I think she has done some awesome work and deserves respect, even if I think her talent is very mediocre. She is unique.)

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    1. If you read the article, you'll notice that I acknowledge Bella Swann being a fictional character. I also point to the actress playing her being not such a bad role model in herself.

      I'm also sticking behind Kat von D with this - you may not think that being a good tattoo artist is something to strive for, but it seems to me that she's worked bloody hard to get where she is and she excels at what she does.

      You are missing the point of my article. I'm not saying that the women in the second row are not excellent role models. I'm saying that geek culture is full of women who have been written in for the purposes of titillation, and who are objectified at every turn. Just because characters like those pictured (and others mentioned) exist, doesn't mean that geek culture is immune to sexism and thus automatically superior. Quite the opposite, in fact: by congratulating themselves in this manner, geeks forget the parts of their culture that are yet to be improved.

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    2. Don't know who Kat Von D is, so will give you that, good for her for what she does, and hey yeah, am sure as an individual she earned her plaudits. Much the same as any actress/model/singer doing her job.

      And no, I got your point perfectly. Geeks are in no way immune to titillation, that I admit. They are human, just like all of us. Is why we have (male or female) swimsuit comics, as example. Pretty is pretty, no arguement there. Is why these shows sell in the first place. Again, male or female, the lead roles are conventinally attractive. The difference is that in Sci FI (TV) geekdom the gender is largely, massively, unimportant.

      But you really missed the salient point of this picture from my perspective, mostly because I don't think you understand what being a geek is (I base this on your knowledge of Sci Fi on this article and nothing else, so apologies if I give offense, is not meant, I haven't read any or your other posts)

      In this circumstance, I would argue that geeks aren't objectifying or removing the person in their adoration, they are not saying sexism doesn't exist. They aren't even congratulating themselves on spotting it. They are admiring the person and the success and role model of a fictional character that has achieved, and excells, in their chosen role, regardless of their gender, and comparing it to those that have wasted or squandered and are still held up as idols, and that is why they are role models. Compared to images and lifestyles of those that are essentially a failure in the comparitive.

      Women in geek culture haven't been objectified for years, geeks are well ahead of the curve on that aspect, respecting and admiring a person for what they (fictionaly, admittedly) represent. It's not about clapping themselves on the back, it's about saying "We spotted this forty years ago, why are you still ignoring us?"

      It's not about superiority; It's about pointing out that the male (especially) geeks (the least laid, least socially attractive. most bullied, most mocked, most laughed at of all the male sterotypes in real life, if you want to get into sterotypes) have always appreciated just what is most important in a person. Not a woman, not a gender, but a person, brilliant in their chosen field, and well worth respecting. Should I point out the first inter-racial and inter-gender kisses both happened on Sci Fi shows?

      Equality, standing together, doing the job regardless of body or cells. Just being equal. Surely that is the point of Sci Fi? It's not about congratulating, it's not about objectifying, it's not about superiority, it's not about letching. It's about the future, and being the best peple we can be.

      It's about pointing out that for decades geeks have been laughed at, mocked, ridiculed, joked at, and yet at every turn they have been the ONE part of society (please ignore the juvinile idiots here) that have always believed and continue to believe, despite peer agression, that women are equal, if not superior, to men, and are their match in every way. And they prove it wth every show.

      Gender, body shape, publicty, manipulation of the media, doesn't matter in Sci Fi, which is what this picture is saying. What better response is there? We are all equal, regardless of gender, and where in that lies the position of the role model?

      It lies with the geeks, who have been telling everyone this since 1960.

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    3. But you really missed the salient point of this picture from my perspective, mostly because I don't think you understand what being a geek is

      Excuse me? I followed Star Trek Voyager/Next Gen/DS9 as a teenager. I consume comic books and sci-fi movies. I play video games. I'm not the Trekkie encyclopedia, but I can tell you just about anything about Firefly. I'm a tabletop gamer and recovering LARPer. I am currently working my way through the Warhammer 40,000 and DC Comics universes. I think you'll find my geek credentials are very much intact. But thank you, anyway, for mansplaining.

      Sexism is very much alive in geek culture. You know how I know? Because I am female-bodied and also a geek. Like most women and female-bodied people, I have a broad range of interests and talents, flatter myself that I'm more intelligent than average, and I talk to other women and female-bodied people. There is next to no-one anywhere in the media - subculture, mainstream, anything - who represents the women I know and the woman I am. The women in the original graphic are awesome, but they are not the norm: geeks, sex-starved as you portray them, like to write and draw themselves material to jerk off to.

      Find me a hero of any corner of geek media who is female and any of the following: of an ethnic minority, disabled, openly gay/bisexual, transgender, fat. Show them to me. And then we can talk about relative equality in geek culture. Don't forget, they have to be the hero of their story. Off the top of my head, I can think of one.

      In fact, find me any prominent female character in any series, film, comic or game who weighs more than eight stone and isn't used for comic relief. That should be enough of a challenge for you.

      It's the women in geek culture who have to put up with the "tits or gtfo" comments, the horrifically narrow representation of themselves in the media, and of asshats like you who like to tell them they're just imagining all the sexism. Instead of getting on your high horse about how positive female role models exist in geek culture (what do you want, a paper hat?) try listening to the women who tell you that maybe some things still need to change.

      In the meantime, go jerk off on someone else's corner of the Internet. We're bored of you here.

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    4. The difference is that in Sci FI (TV) geekdom the gender is largely, massively, unimportant.

      I'm going to go on ahead and assume that you're a guy, because in general it is only guys who would be able to say that with a straight face.

      Male privilege redux: all of your high-handed commentary on a post that you clearly skimmed at best is stuff that is very easy for you to say. You have the luxury of looking only at the parts of geek culture you like (some positive female role models! yay!) and not the parts you don't like (an overwhelming number of female characters whose skills, such as they are, are still less important than the fact that they have great tits). And you get to keep on pushing that belief, that the bits you like are the only bits that exist, in spite of overwhelming evidence - in this article, in the comments, and pretty much everywhere on the Internet - to the contrary.

      You get to do that. Women and female-bodied people, especially those of us within geekdom, do not. If you want to be involved in this discussion, I suggest you maybe have a think about what that means.

      (Also, a minor technical point: inter-gender kisses have been happening in pretty much every facet of culture since culture existed.)

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    5. "You have the luxury of looking only at the parts of geek culture you like (some positive female role models! yay!) and not the parts you don't like ..."

      Why is that a 'luxury', out of interest? I'm not sure I understand why women and female-bodied people (thanks - I've just learnt this phrase!) don't also have the option of turning a Nelsonian blind eye to the sleazier stuff when taking part in a subculture or specialist interest. I understand why it's not a very attractive option ...

      And it's cherry-picking, to be sure, but isn't that what people always do when they want to talk about the most positive aspects of a culture of sub-culture? And isn't his point, albeit clumsily phrased, that the best of geek culture achieves something that the best of pop culture does not?

      I'm playing devil's advocate - I follow comics and games far more than TV and both mediums have a wretchedly long way to go in terms of female representation. But he does specify "sci fi (TV) geekdom" and you seem to be expanding his comment to go far beyond that.

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    6. It's a luxury because men belong to a group that isn't directly affected by sexism. And by and large, for those of us who are affected, it's kind of like the Matrix - you can't unsee it once you've taken the red pill.

      I and most other feminists find it really difficult to simply ignore this bombardment of messages about who series writers think we are, and who they think we should be in order to be worth writing a story about. Some people manage it, but this is the kind of social conditioning that explains a lot of insecurities that we as women/female bodied people carry almost universally. When I see something that's designed to make half of human society feel bad about themselves, consciously or not, I get angry.

      The best of pop culture gives us Veronica Mars, My Little Pony (the newer series), Fringe. It gives us Katniss Everdeen (and Suzanne Collins); it gives us Hermione Granger (and J.K. Rowling). It gives us Adele and Beyonce. It gives us Helen Mirren, Judi Dench, Meryl Streep. it gives us Viola Davis and Gabourey Sidibe. I refuse the notion that the women in the top row weren't cherry-picked in the same way you ask us to do with SF.

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    8. Why is that a 'luxury', out of interest? I'm not sure I understand why women and female-bodied people (thanks - I've just learnt this phrase!) don't also have the option of turning a Nelsonian blind eye to the sleazier stuff when taking part in a subculture or specialist interest.

      Ah yes, the "if you don't like it, don't look at it" argument. This argument falsely presumes that the objection to "it" is merely a matter of differing personal tastes, and nothing more. I think you'll find that the concern about the portrayal of women here is not just aesthetic, but is a more long-term concern about what the ongoing effects of such portrayals might be on, say, the attitudes of men towards women, and the expectations women place on themselves in order to be socially accepted.

      Disagree with those concerns if you like, but please don't trivialise them by reducing them to a matter of merely "not liking" the portrayal. Also, please don't falsely shout "political correctness is censorship!" (as so many people seem to do) when people suggest that some forms of free speech, such as the portrayals of women being discussed here, may have negative effects due to, for example, sexism. Criticism of free speech is not censorship, it is also free speech.

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    9. vilenspotens says: "Women in geek culture haven't been objectified for years"

      That may be the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard.

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    10. @underattack: I agree entirely. The operative word there is "directly" - the way I've seen/experienced it, sexism hurts men by continuation of the way it hurts women.

      And yes, Precious is precisely one such. Not in geek culture, interestingly.

      And thank you for your kind words.

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  4. 'Women in geek culture haven't been objectified for years, geeks are well ahead of the curve on that aspect, respecting and admiring a person for what they (fictionaly, admittedly) represent.'

    Dude, are you for real? Shut the fuck up and go and learn about male privilege.

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  5. As demonstrated in the comment above men don't get the "tits or gtfo" comments.

    They just get the "gtfo".

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    1. More specifically, men get "contribute to the discussion we are having, not the discussion you think we should be having, or gtfo".

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  6. Scifi/geek intelligent female characters suffer the same as real world ones - be pretty as well and you'll be socially validated. Of course fiction has an aspirational element, but that is still portrayed as having a largely aesthetic objective and other successes even when they are the character's primary purpose are against a backdrop of 'and good looking'.

    That's not confined to women of course, as you rarely find an 'average' lead/support character and most of the aesthetically non-pinnacle characters are aliens/bad guys - Neelix (ST Voyager), Harcourt Fenton Mudd (ST original) - in fact I'm struggling to think of these even as series like Stargate and Farscape, everyone including the bad guys is physically in good shape even if they're not model material. Older characters are always in great shape too (Picard, all the old Vulcans, Bones McCoy, Shepherd Book, Scorpius).

    It's entertainment, and mostly originating in a US market where aesthetic appeal in the media is more important than UK (as I understand it), so nothing necessarily wrong with being attractive that taken into account. I would like to see more of these attractive characters (M&F) in ordinary clothes (like Kayleigh in overalls from Firefly) rather than the seemingly obligatory figure hugging, asset showing outfits.

    (and in case of any misunderstanding, I'm bi with a leaning towards girls so the eye-candy factor is not unappreciated, yet still irritating as a consistent representation of success factor)

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  7. In defense of Slave Leia, she's a more empowering character than a lot of people think, if you consider her as more than just a poster. (That being said, I'm guessing that George Lucas just wanted an excuse to show her in a skimpy outfit, so I double he really considered all of the implications.)

    Yes, Leia was captured because she underestimated Jabba, but she didn't give up at that point. When Luke showed up and started wreaking havoc, she immediately sprang into action and killed Jabba with her own bindings. So clearly she's physically strong, and on top of that, she's either a quick thinker or a methodical planner (or both), both of which are good traits in a strong character.

    Taking this a step farther, you have to consider *why* she was dressed the way she was. People who keep prisoners or slaves will often keep them naked because the shame of nakedness makes people easier to control (look at Abu Ghraib, for instance). Most people couldn't work up the courage to rebel if they were being kept naked (or mostly naked) against their will.

    Of course, I don't really believe that George Lucas considered all of this stuff. That doesn't preclude her from being a strong character, though.

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    1. The other scantily clad women are all strong, heroic characters. Their only "flaw" seems to be slut-shaming, which we already agreed was bad. So if anything, I think they support the original picture's message.

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    2. My point in raising Slave Leia was precisely that she doesn't fit in as a good female role model according to the standards set by the poster itself. I think she's a total badass. I didn't make that clear enough in my writing.

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    3. Leia also never misses a shot ;) She's the best shot of the three of them.

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  8. All pro-LGBT, pro-contraception advocacy and astounding musical talent aside, "purposefully never sexy" is about the last thing that can be said about Lady Gaga. Her photo above alone should be enough evidence of this. If you need more convincing, though, see her video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EVBsypHzF3U , and take a good look at the other imagery (both photo and video) that she puts out. Personally I would only be okay with my daughter aspiring to "be Lady Gaga" in musical talent and her disregard for fashion norms alone (within reason, of course, as many of her outfits are incredibly revealing).

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    1. I remain convinced that she does those things to freak people out rather than arouse them, or at least to make them ask some pretty serious questions about why they find these things arousing.

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  9. Wait, so why not add to the top row instead of try and subtract from the bottom? prove the positive instead of prove the negative? why make this poster worse? bring those people you mentioned into the seen. is having BOTH sets of roles models a problem? or am i just missing the point of this discussion?

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    1. I'm not trying to subtract from the bottom. They're wicked cool characters, all of them. I'm questioning the criteria according to which they've been picked, not their presence on the graphic.

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  10. I've been following this meme's horrific rise and I only have one item to add to the comment:

    Whence comes this idea that geek culture and pop culture don't overlap, anyway?

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  11. An argument in favour of the Orion slave girl pictured is that the Orion slave girls were retconned in Enterprise to be the matriarchs of Orion society and the true ringleaders of the expansive criminal Orion Syndicate. Again, retconned, but the Orion girl featured there is a retconned Orion girl.

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  12. Lady Gaga " is scantily clad but purposefully never sexy". How you managed to get that out is beyond me. Honestly, after that statement I just discounted everything you had to say. So out of touch with reality it's beyond compare. It's like saying Andy Dick is "charmingly quirky but never calls attention to himeself." I mean c'mon, really?

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    1. You could of course try reading the rest of the article, and the various comments where I address this very question. :)

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  13. I find this article to be nothing but mental masturbation.

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  14. I've read the article and all the responses, but I'm still not sure: are you saying geek culture is *not* better than mainstream pop culture overall in portraying positive female role-models - or are you pointing out that scifi isn't immune to negative female portrayals itself?

    I know geek culture isn't devoid of negative female stereotypes, *especially* comics, but does it in the overall/average do a better job of portraying positive models, or is geek culture simply no better than pop culture and both are equally bad in their portrayal of women?

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    1. I'm a geek. Of course I prefer geek culture. But I think pointing to one as better or worse than the other is spurious and irrelevant. Each has their own slightly different problems, and I certainly don't think geek culture is in a position to trumpet its superior values.

      Do I, as someone who appears female, encounter less sexism among geeks than among non-geeks? Nope. Sorry. And that's what ultimately has to be the measure of it.

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  15. So pop culture tells women that their worth is a measure of their sexuality while geek culture would have them hide their sexuality altogether? But then Geeks are acting like giant hypocrites because they themselves are frequent consumers of media that sexualizes women? And maybe even pop culture could be thought of as being hypocrites because of their supposedly good, wholesome, Christian values?!?! Along the way you get chicken-cowards who feel threatened at the slightest hint of a woman asserting herself, simultaneously having to deal with passive-aggressive half-pints who think that being a clingy possessive "nice guy" is what women wanted all along?

    Man this life business is HARD!

    Maybe the problem will go away when we all upload our brains into genderless robots and the act of reproduction involves the hottest session of code-writing you've ever heard of.

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