Decorative Flower
Her Realm, Personal website and blog of Cole
Dec 30

Come to the Feminist Side, Kaley Cuoco

If you’re sick of my feminist rants, this post isn’t for you. But, then again, I am not the friend for you. So go away.

Today, the Internet is atwitter with an Interview with Kaley Cuoco, the actress who plays Penny in The Big Bang Theory. In this interview, Cuoco explains why she’s not a feminist, and it essentially boils down to “but sexism doesn’t hurt me!”

Sexism looks like a fairy tale to Kaley Cuoco.. because she's attratctive

Sexism looks like a fairy tale to Kaley Cuoco.. because she’s attratctive

It’s not difficult to understand how Kaley Cuoco might not feel discriminated against. After all, she is young, talented and attractive. On the surface, misogyny keeps her afloat rather than pulling her under. But if she weren’t so thin? If she wasn’t a bubbly blond? Chances are that the effects of sexism would be more noticeable for her.

And in the year 2014, the issues that women face are different than they were 50 or 100 years ago. We can vote and own property. We can keep our last names when we marry, and we can work outside the house if we want. There’s a lot of progress, but this just means that we have to focus on those little subversive ways that sexism and misogyny still exist in our everyday lives, even if we as women don’t notice them. If we don’t always pick up on them as women, who are being antagonized, how would a man who is unaffected? Many times, they don’t.

When you look more closely at Kaley, you can see how she’s been a victim of misogyny. The thing we have to remember is that people revere her not because they respect her but because they want to own her. Men want to possess her. Indeed, that’s the entirety of a multiple-season plot arc between Cuoco’s character Penny, a “slutty, dumb blond”, on The Big Bang Theory and the nerdy guy to whom the character is now her fiancee. Penny might not be the brightest bulb, but at least she’s cute.

And as long as sexism exist, we’re going to keep hearing “at least she’s cute,” as if a woman cannot possibly be attractive and intelligent or talented. As if a woman’s talents mean less than her naturally or hard-earned beauty. As if a woman who isn’t attractive will never, could never, be enough. Even though she has benefited from sexism in this way, I am sure that Cuoco has been on the other side, especially in Hollywood. Sleazy producers and directors? Being judged more harshly for her looks than male actors? Making less money than her peers? Kaley has had to deal with all of those, even if sexism provides her some minuscule perks in comparison.

Kaley seems to understand that maybe she’s “because I’ve never really faced inequality,” but I’d love to her show more depth when she thinks about these things, and perhaps an interview with People mag isn’t the place to be deep, but wouldn’t it be a wonderful world if it were?

I hope that Kaley Cuoco surrounds herself with women who aren’t afraid to tell her just how they have been discriminated against, and how sexism still occurs, albeit sometimes in a more subtle way than can be difficult for people like Kaley to understand when they’re not constantly barraged by the waves of misogyny. Perhaps with people close to her pointing out their experiences, she will listen, and she will want to take up the feminist mantle because, at the very least, she wants to help other women.

Jul 26

Divisiveness and Misogyny in Geek Culture

I experienced a brief touch with fame yesterday. I woke up and saw Felicia Day tweet the following:

Dear reporters, getting a bit tired of being held up as an “authentic” geek as you write posts against women who “exploit” geek culture

I replied to her, tongue-in-cheek, not expecting any response. I told her not to worry, because journalists call her out too. You may recall an incident with Ryan Perez, calling Felicia a glorified booth babe a while back. I hadn’t yet seen the article to which Day was replying with her early-afternoon tweet, but as a lady geek, I felt her.

You see, there’s this interesting paradox about geek girls. We can be funny and smart and slightly obsessed.. but we can’t really be attractive. If we happen to be attractive, then we’re probably just cosplaying and flaunting in front of the geek boys. Yea, we’re just faking it. After reading Felicia’s post, I recalled how Olivia Munn gets flack for her work on G4. Now, I can’t say for sure that Munn is or is not a geek but, then again, it’s not my place. All I know is, I never thought it was appropriate to call her out, seemingly only because she’s good looking. Since when does attractiveness disqualify someone from being a geek? After all, plenty of good looking geek guys exist. Natalie Portman has also been on the receiving end of this you’re-too-pretty-to-be-a-geek criticism, too.

I saw this from a feminist viewpoint, and I thought that was where Felicia Day was coming from, but plenty of the  dozens of people who replied to me/us saw it as a general issue with elitism, not just sexism, within geek culture.  Felicia replied to me, asking who is helped by that divisiveness and the ridiculous of levels of geekery, and I completely agreed. I don’t understand why there has to be such a litmus test. In order to call yourself a geek, you must do X, say Y and look Z. Really? Says who? Because this elitism is not only shitty, it’s the exact reason I didn’t realize and, then when I did, feared coming out of the geek closet. I constantly struggle with the douchey geekier-than-thou types, because I just don’t pass the test, I guess.

The problem, it seems, is that everything that was exclusively geek territory has become popular. Now, I don’t see that as a bad thing. I like meeting people and seeing how everyone has a little bit of geek in them, but others don’t. Others perhaps feel a sense of territoriality, as if the masses encroaching upon their hobbies is the worst possible thing that could ever happen. In this definition, the masses and the mainstream somehow include anyone without a penis. This became increasingly obvious as I accidentally stumbled across the CNN Geek Out blog article–and its comments–to which Day had originally been responding.

In it, Joe Peacock discusses booth babes at conventions. In general, most people agree that this practice is annoying and mysogynist. If Peacock had stopped there, I doubt there would have been any backlash. But he didn’t. He went on to call out any woman who has ever been a booth babe, specifically mentioning Olivia Munn. It is those words that, to me, seemed to rub Felicia Day so wrong. How dare he hold her up as the pillar of geekery, while he alienated others. After all, what does he know of any booth babe? If you look at the comments on Joe’s article, you can clearly see some some self-proclaimed geeks who have also been booth babes. Shocking!

But you can also see plenty of commentors who agree. They cry that the culture isn’t what it used to be. They bemoan the popularity of things that used to be counterculture. It’s not the booth babes they really have a problem with. It’s sharing. Funny, they seem to share that personality flaw with Mr. Peacock. Articles like those by Peacock are sensational, and when Felicia Day asks who they help, the masses are right when they return with “the journalists.” It makes for a headline and, perhaps, a heated debate, but it does nothing to further the geek culture. It alienates those who don’t feel geek enough, while it gives a false sense of superiority to those who feel geekier-than-thou for no good reason. It’s like they’re saying “Well back in my geeky day.” Times change, you gotta change with ’em.

And in these times, geekery is pretty mainstream. People are loving comic books and video games, SciFi and fantasy. Word of Warcraft isn’t some secret society. You’d be surprised who joins a tabletop gaming match every Sunday night, and these people don’t live in their parents’ basements. So does this dilute the definition of geek? Does the lines between geek and “normie” blur? Perhaps. But is this always a bad thing? It seems like it’s only a negative if you’re insecure. Isn’t the reason that geeks flock together partly because the rest of society turned up their noses at us? So why would we want to do this to someone who might experience similarly frustrations or be trying to find themselves in the world? There’s no reason to exclude part-time geeks or geek newbs. Didn’t we all start somewhere?

But, above all, as a geek woman, I can’t help but think that the additional limitations and expectations placed on me simply because of my reproductive organs is extra shitty. Women don’t need anyone dividing them. Society doesn’t do this to men. And we certainly don’t deserve to have our identities scrutinized over our god-damned level of attractiveness.

So, good call, Felicia Day. I agree completely, and I’m glad you tweeted me!

Others have also had some things to say, with which I mostly agree. Check out Daniel Griffiths’ piece on Forbes or the post on Geek Out by Genevieve Marie.

Jul 11

Kindle Fire’s Keyboard Sucks. Oh, It’s Sexist, too

The one thing that I would change about my Kindle Fire is the keyboard. The OS doesn’t let me switch to Swype or FlexT9, a similar app that I’ve actually purchased from Amazon’s Appstore. The Kindle’s keyboard isn’t entirely like that on my iPod, but it works better on the iPod, because it’s so much smaller. However, the size of the Kindle Fire keyboard isn’t the only thing that bugs me, it’s the content. The dictionary doesn’t contain basic words like “recognize”. I’m constantly doubting myself because I type a word but it shows the red line indicating that it’s not a real word. Basic works that you would expect a dictionary to know are missing, while it includes hundreds of useless words.

It’s also sexist. What do I mean? The Kindle Fire’s dictionary doesn’t include any word that describes female anatomy. Vagina? Nope. There’s no vulva or clitoris, either. There’s not even any nipples.  Of course, “penis” was in the dictionary. Now, I’m sure it wasn’t Amazon’s intent, but it means that the Kindle fire doesn’t include medical terminology for the human body, but it’s oddly suspicious that it’s only words that describe female anatomy. One could argue that Amazon wants to avoid words for possibly adult terms, but then again there’s that reference to “penis.”

Am I actually offended? Well, no, but I am curious.

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