Feminism and Egalitarianism

You know, despite the best efforts and good intentions of pretty much every feminist out there, we still encounter those disheartening individuals who say they support gender equality and women’s rights… but not feminism. I have made posts before about calling it Humanism, a mistake because Humanism is a philosophical belief system about the destiny of the human race as being “to be good people”. However, perhaps you or someone you know says it’s not feminism they support but egalitarianism? An egalitarian society is one in which race, income, gender and background do not affect what rights you have, everyone gets the same chances and that’s that. Awesome right? Ehh…

Egalitarianism was the philosophy that served as the starting point for fair and equal societies, the argument stood as thus – everyone is fundamentally the same, we are all human, we all therefore deserve the same as one another. In the early days of society, those who spoke of egalitarianism got the ball rolling for the formation of fairer societies in which equal rights were not available. Slavery, colonialism, sexism, many creeds of people were denied the most basic of resources on flawed grounds and egalitarianism is the idea that this can be rectified by giving everyone the exact same entitlements. A great concept, if everyone was given £100, everyone is £100 better off right, especially those who are without any money right? Well the problem with this idea is egalitarianism fails to take into account some factors that might drastically alter how far that £100 goes – maybe you already have £100,000, what’s £100 more? Maybe £100 isn’t enough to pay off £500 of debt? Maybe what you need more than money is a home and food? Maybe your problem, say, a disability, can’t be fixed by throwing some money at it? Egalitarianism doesn’t address this, everyone gets the same resources, everyone has to make do.

Feminism, as a concept, only really existed as a combination of ideas and legal battles and protests, taking its name as a means to represent the under-represented class of citizens at its time, women. Women wanted the same rights as men, rights to an education and to ownership of property, to be allowed to divorce unfaithful men and to be allowed to earn their own keep. However, what is often overlooked is what feminism stood for and still stands for – gender is not a fair basis for discrimination of any kind. Feminism grew to encompass the idea that no discrimination is acceptable and a feminist will not stand for discrimination on the basis of sexuality or socio-economic status just as much as they won’t stand for discrimination based on gender, because every human issue affects every human being, regardless of gender. To the outside world, you are defined by your gender, your race, your religion, your sexuality, and feminism says that whatever the world sees, you are never fair game for being discriminated against. Feminism was the word chosen for the movement that defends the rights of those that were unspoken for, it was the name given to the gauntlet cast against the uncaring majority. If a feminist claim isn’t one that seeks to achieve equality in terms of rights and protections for all, it’s not a feminist claim and feminism is still a valid name, though that’s a blog post in itself.

Egalitarianism opened the door to this discussion for the masses when people proposed the concept of an equal society but feminism is the only mainstream movement actively making strides to achieve just that, in fact one must consider that what we often seek is equity, not equality. Equity Theory, as it is known, is the recognition that our varying backgrounds not only make us who we are but that they must be reflected in what must be done to render us all equals. Confused? Say you have a room full of people to feed and you offer everyone in that room peanut butter sandwiches. Here is the difference between equality and equity:

EQUALITY: “You are all entitled to a plate of peanut butter sandwiches”

EQUITY: “You are all entitled to a plate of peanut butter sandwiches but if you are wheat-intolerant, allergic to peanuts or just don’t like sandwiches, we’ll fill your plate with something more appropriate”

Like the £100 analogy from earlier, just offering everyone £100 is equal means but not a fair playing field, some people only have that  £100 and some have that £100 added onto the £100,000 they have in the bank. A fair society is one that levels the playing field so there is nothing outside of the individual’s control that is affecting their chances at a happy life. Equity, therefore, is the offering that if you need more, you can take more and if you can give more, you should give more so that we all share in the wealth and thus, share in the happiness of a secure life. Where does Feminism fit into this? Feminism, at this buffet, is the person at the buffet table telling people not to push and shove because we should all get what we want, everyone deserves to eat and that even if you are entitled to your sandwich, which you are, you shouldn’t force your way through the crowds because when it comes down to that, it’s the weak that get left the crumbs at the end.

The notion of equality can be exploited but equity is harder to fool if implemented correctly. Feminism seeks equity and for a truly fair society, so should we. To fight for social justice and a fair standard of living for all, where all needs are met and everyone feels safe, valued and able to contribute, is to be a feminist and that names does not need to change. By our very human nature, we are social animals who want to better the world we live in, even those of us who commit crimes think we are doing the right thing in some capacity, so a society of equity would ensure everyone’s basic needs were met whilst everyone’s talents were put to use. That is what feminism fights for, that is what a fair society is and that is why we are not egalitarians, we are feminists! 

Things I H8

Trigger Warnings – Strong language throughout and mentions of sexual assault

I’m going to start by saying I’m a feminist, if you hadn’t guessed already – I didn’t always understand the cause of feminism growing up, saw stereotypes and took my impressions of the cause from them until I decided to dig deeper and then realised that feminism isn’t a bunch of angry housewives wanting to beat men to death (not at the core, there are a few bad eggs but hey you get Buddhist marauders so…) but in fact people of all walks of life standing for equal rights, to have a world where everyone, at the most base level of human rights, gets the same treatment. I couldn’t agree more with this cause, we should all be equal because until I see a definitive reason one human being is greater than the rest (i.e born with a fucking halo) then you know, we should just try to get along as equals, be we gay, bi, trans, man, woman or none of the above

FCKH8 recently resurfaced in the attention of the masses with their ‘feminist’ advert, yes advert, in which little girls dressed as princesses drop the effing f-bomb like there’s no fucking tomorrow. Watch it to understand this article it’s easily found on YouTube. Now, I’m not against swearing, I curse like a sailor with his dick in a vice when I want to, swear words are so interwoven with our society as a whole that children swearing comes as no shock to me personally but to a lot of people this advert was a slap in the face, an affront to their senses as pretty girls screamed that they weren’t damsels in distress. Ok, so on the feminist front, it’s great that one message of this advert is that girls are not obliged to conform to the princess trope, that women aren’t helpless prizes to be won for a man’s achievements but the real problem with this advert isn’t the foul language, it’s everything else about the advert and just a heads up, this gets dark

I have an issue with using children to push products and messages they don’t understand, these girls are helpless, not because they are girls but because they are children being manipulated into shameless advertising. Sure, a third of the proceeds from the shirt sales goes to charity but that is not saying much if, out of your donation to a charity, only 33% actually goes to the cause and 66% goes towards everything else. Speaking only for Oxfam, as someone who works for the charity, we keep less than 20% of the money for running our business and the rest goes straight to fighting the spread of Ebola, supporting people affected by the conflicts in Gaza and so on and so on. The message is insincere, these aren’t the little girls defying the trope, these are little actors reading a script. Why not just ask these girls “Do you really want to be a princess?” and then have some girls saying that they’d rather be doctors or police officers or something that is generally considered a ‘male’ profession. A bunch of eight years olds swearing and reading statistics off a prompt just sends the message that they’re being pushed, sure they seem fine with it but that’s the thing with being manipulated, you never actually complain about being manipulated. Why not use adults? Why must we face the ‘shock’ of exploitation? The message is for adults, children don’t have pay inequality issues (yet) so using kids to talk about it undermines the sincerity of the message as little more than a stunt

Actually, that rolls onto my next issue with the advert, the statistics. Setting aside the obnoxious cocky tones that just further the stereotype of the angry feminist, there are mentions of rape, with the statistic that one in five women are the subject of sexual assault and one girl then asks in an eerie tone “Which of us will it be?”. You’re fucking ten years old, you shouldn’t be worrying about that. I know children can be victims of such assault but we shouldn’t be making them consider that at such a young age, gathering them in groups of five and then asking them which one they think is gonna get it first. Sexual assault is a serious issue that needs to be tackled but this isn’t the way to do it and the fact this adverts gives these girls the impression they are unstoppable forces of nature that should demand respect means that heaven forbid they ever are the victims of such assault, they will blame themselves because if something stops the unstoppable, the unstoppable doubts itself. You shouldn’t build someone up like that because it won’t hold water and they’ll be the victim when it all crashes down. I thought I was the greatest, turns out I wasn’t, I loathed myself and even now still have doubts about myself.

The advert, which is what it is, is a shameless debauchery of the cause, cementing the idea in people’s minds that a feminist is a foul-mouthed pissy little girl criticising men for having dicks. Saying fuck in a dress is not feminism and this advert is not empowering for anyone. Would you have your kids watch the advert? No? So the kids learn nothing. Do you feel empowered watching children swear at you? No? So you learnt nothing, other than FCKH8 is a penny-pinching organisation confusing anger and rage for justice. I mean, take the name, clearly meaning to read as ‘Fuck Hate’. Fuck it? Yes, nothing resolves hatred like hatred and heck, this organisation has always had trouble with it’s messages – seeing bisexuality as a cross between gay/straight, having very little to say for trans* equality, insinuating that effeminate gay men are the ‘best’ representatives of their cause – but an attitude of petty acts and outlandish anger just sells the greater cause short. FCKH8 is to the LGBT movement is what Farage is to British Politics – the noisy idiot that makes everyone look bad and makes us turn away from the whole affair.

In summary, feminism is not anger and rage and swear-words, it is simply wanting equality for all and though the name starts with ‘fem’ it is not about angry women ruling the world and castrating us all from birth, it represents the interests of us all. FCKH8, you did not relay a positive message by exploiting your children into selling your crappy confrontational t-shirts, you just embarrassed people trying to make a difference

This Isn’t A Game Guys! (And That’s The Problem)

Fifty posts! Hooray, have cake on me everyone! Only joking, all the cake is for me. Only joking again, there is no cake, the cake is a lie. Aha, got you with that old gem didn’t I? Yes, I did plan on hanging myself, how did you know? Erhem, terrible jokes aside, this is my fiftieth post, felt it was a better number to end the written works on than forty-nine. So what will it be about, you ask? Love? Politics? Religion? Hoho no, let’s end this chapter in the saga of rant on the same wavelength it started on – me getting all hoity toity about a small issue with comical effects.

My topic for discussion is the games industry and mainly, my distaste for it as of late. Are you old enough to remember the days when consoles competed for the market by making better games than each other? Sure, there were adverts that openly mocked Sonic or Mario as being stupid characters and so lame compared to other console mascots, but on the whole if a company wanted to win the race for children’s love at Christmas, it was by announcing a smorgasbord of interesting titles for the kiddies. Hey kids, forget the Dreamcast, get the PlayStation – we’ve got Rayman and Crash Bandicoot and racing games and so much more – and sure enough kids did just that. Truth be told, your parents only ever got you one console usually and thus you had to develop brand loyalty for fear of admitting you asked for the wrong gift at Christmas but my point stands, the consoles used to put a lot more effort into being worth the price tag than they do now.

Now you could say part of the problem is there’s no originality any more, that these big brands have had to duke it out for years on end and are just low on ideas so they make sequels to fan favourites and churn them out ad nauseum but I think there is a lot more to it than that, I think a big issue is game companies aren’t run by gamers, usually anyway. The CEOs of Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo aren’t avid game fans or game designers but they get the final word in our gaming experiences and this is like hiring the blind guy to do your interior decorating on the basis of “Well, he has the paint and the brushes so we figured he’d be best suited to the job”. If you don’t believe me, have you noticed how most AAA games are sequels or reboots? The sales figures show they sell and so that’s what they go by, never venturing into unknown territory. I’m not saying these guys are idiots, I’m sure every one of us reckons they could improve on a bad game but not all of us actually know enough about game design to do that effectively and neither do these guys, that’s where the problem comes in. The executive level gets to decide important issues like game length, amount of DLC available, linear or non-linear storyline – they control the creative process and you know what they say about camels and horses (A camel is a horse designed by committee)

My second issue with modern gaming is the money pumped into the industry, a ridiculous amount that really isn’t needed at all. A study carried out four years ago showed games across platforms cost $28 million to make, that’s around £17 million, and that number has gone up and up each year. Console exclusives start at around £8 million. Why? Why do we need that kind of budget? Brilliant games exist that were made by four blokes in a basement! Sadly, perhaps that’s part of the problem but the budget is to cover the massive teams and years of development across the nation to bring out show-stoppers and games like Call of Duty and such are made so damn flashy and so frequently because it’s the industry saying “We need money! We need help! We’re victims of our own success!”. If the entire world switched off long running franchises like Halo or Call of Duty, corporations would crash and burn. A single failed game in this modern age can kill a company dead, possibly even a console. Nintendo is falling into the nether-realm of the digital world because it can’t hold up against it’s competitors, which brings me to my next issue, the narrow market.

Let’s review the choices of the modern gamer shall we? You have three big brands, one that’s limping on a crutch called Smash Brawl and failing, one that speaks of being “For the players!” but is really a gimmicky box of shite and one that lights up as it empties your wallet. Your other choices are a gaming PC to join the elitist super gamers or independant company consoles that are so beyond the mainstream you have to trawl through the internet to find out why you should buy one of them instead of a PS4. The big brands are atrocious money fiends that spend their time pissing each other off whilst flashing their fancy little tricks at you. Did you hear Microsoft will give you $100 store credit if you give them a PS3 so they can smash it up and dance on the remains? Sony’s response? “Save $100 by NOT doing what Microsoft told you, they’re all wankers anyway!”. Fucking grow up, your stupid rivalry creates stupid gamers. I hate talking to people about consoles, they’re so fucking loyal to the one they own that it’s obnoxious. Bitch, the only reason I’m a Playstation player is for Dynasty Warriors and JRPGs, I prefer Japanese games, they’re just more fun but they’re not available on XBOX because there are no avid-Microsoft fans in Japan really. Nintendo kept their head out of the bickering this time around but they’re struggling because by doing so, they’re not in the race and they’ve fallen off the radar despite pumping out all sorts of new games and consoles. Nintendo will bounce back, they always do – something about their characters makes the company immortal no matter how bad the struggle. The Gamecube lost to the PlayStation and XBOX, didn’t stop the Wii coming out. Game companies are becoming cruel and vindictive on the whole though and deliberately screwing their fans over to beat cash out of them. Take backwards compatibility on the PS4, it requires a fee for each game! Why not just keep my PS3? I’ve seen nothing on the PS4 that has convinced me “Oh, that’s a game that would have been impossible to make on the PS3, it is so new and intuitive!”. Again, another point – name me one new game that a smart game designer could not have made for the PS3/XBOX 360 that they did make for the new gen consoles. Nothing? I thought not.

I guess a big issue is by the time the new consoles do have genuinely exciting new releases that masterfully use the new software and hardware to create a unique experience, you’ll be holding onto your money for the PS5 or Xbox 3000 or Wii Z or whatever. The game industry shifts and changes too fast for the developers and it stresses them out which is a big problem, as I found out through a little read around. The burnout rate in game design careers is incredulous, as the designers reach the ‘settling down’ age they seek jobs with regular hours during daylight hours with good job security and a pleasant environment. Guess what? That’s not game design. Ergo, the technical sorts migrate into jobs to do with website maintenance and data handling and the designers move into advertising and graphics and so on. The people that can’t change careers however, are those with specialised skill sets, those that have devoted their lives to being the best damn 3D modelling artist ever – what else can you do? CGI film? Yeah, good luck getting that interview. The end result is a jarring mismatch of ability in the workplace, masterful artists and a high level of rank amateurs in the programming area with a handful of veterans watching them work. Chances are that glitch that made you walk through the floor or your head float away was an error made by a newbie that his boss was too damn tired to correct.

I guess I’m scared in a way, I grew up alongside the consoles and now I watch words flash up like “Microtransactions” and “Always online!” and it turns me away from the whole medium. Games are escapism in a way that films and books aren’t, it’s an interactive retreat from reality. You don’t watch a film and feel as if you’re Iron Man or Dumbledore, you just watch a selection of characters you like do stuff and smile and clap and eat popcorn. Games are different, you become the protagonist, especially in games like Fallout or Skyrim where the world revolves around you. In this world, you’re anything from a werewolf that can command the elements whilst riding into battle dressed in the robes of your great warrior grandfather to the survivor of an apocalyptic war looking to survive the chaos and carnage of the new world. Sadly however, the higher ups know how partial we are to this world and they follow us into it, picking our pockets and teasing us with more battles to win or princesses to save, and we give in and thus the childhood innocence of the land of heroes becomes a cash cow that insists it’s your noble steed into battle. It just isn’t guys, it just isn’t.

Perhaps the ultimate solution is to just stop, let it die and enjoy what we have and leave the industry to pick up the pieces and realise the truth of what it has become… Somehow, I don’t see that happening though

PS – For further reading, here is one of the many articles that inspired this post -http://www.cracked.com/article_20727_5-reasons-video-game-industry-about-to-crash.html

Like and Share, you mindless mortals! (Originally Published – 10th September 2012)

Hello, Jacob Wolfe clocking in again at the factory of foul ranting, after a lengthy holiday that mostly consisted of working my nuts off, here, there and everywhere I could be made to do something for somebody. I’m sure you’ve all been wandering what happened to these once-upon-a-time weekly rants but rest assured I’m going to try and get back into routine so you don’t have to miss out on the hilarious results of frustration plus keyboard. To those of you checking out my work for the first time, you haven’t missed out on too much. The premise is simple, I vent out my anger at a failure within modern society as a page of fanciful ranting and then put up on the internet for people to either laugh at, or be offended by so I can laugh at them. I must warn you in advance, this isn’t friendly stuff so if you’re of a nervous disposition or easily offended, go read something more cheerful. If you’re still here, you’re no doubt after some entertaining vulgarities aren’t you? Oh go on then

My topic today is related to Facebook and in particular, one of the most annoying things about it. I’m not talking about the ever changing layout that leaves people in tears, desperately clawing at their screens because change is bad. No, I’m on about something much much worse. ‘Like and share, ignore if you’re heartless/hate gay people/want to die a grizzly death involving your eyes, a melon bowler and several burly men etc.’ I don’t really have to explain why this is so bad do I? I mean, it’s smegging obvious what’s so bleedin’ annoying about this airy-fairy drivel and if you can’t see the problem, you’ve probably liked and shared one of these stupid photos or maybe you were the one who uploaded that picture of a dying child, demanding I share the photo or you’ll appear under my bed with a knife? By the way, appearing under my bed would be an impressive feat; it has no legs so the space under my bed is as thin as a sheet of paper.

The offending photos range in appearance, usually something harmless and brain dead along the lines of ‘Share if you like Black Veil Brides. Ignore if you’re a Bieber fan’, which, whilst a strong motivation to not ignore your photo, I don’t like Black Veil Brides either and the idea of giving you my attention makes me feel like vomiting. Occasionally, the photos get a bit wedged up their own ass and preach to you about heaven and hell, saying that God will only save those who like the photo of him posted on Facebook. I have read the Bible and I am pretty sure, there isn’t a Psalm Reading along the lines of ‘And so the loyal shepherd liked thy holy spirit’s Facebook photo and so he and his flock were spared from the vengeful flood’. I may be wrong. God’s losing it if he really has to run heaven as an online subscription service, perhaps he’s feeling the effects of global recession and the economic value of the afterlife equates to an amount roughly the same as a Greek saving account.

However, I can put up with the harmless photos of puppies, cartoon characters and various musicians pulling cute faces at me, hoping I’ll grace them with space on my profile because in all honesty, they’re just the end results of creepy weirdoes using pictures to get a couple more friends and the only real way to avoid them is to scroll past them quickly and hope that you don’t get murdered by a ghost or banished to the void between dimensions. I may be irritable and grumpy but I let this slide because it’s essentially just the only way these monkeys can socialise. On the other hand, there are times where the photos can just go too far. I know what you’re thinking, I dance on the edge of taste myself but if you look back at my other rants, I do not dirty my work with anything much too vulgar. Cancer, specific national traumas, disabilities are just three topics that I make sure not to make crude jokes about because I know it’s entirely tasteless and that I will actually be murdered in my sleep by a victim of such topics. However, the photos don’t stop at the border of what’s a harmless picture for some likes and what’s actually just cruel. The photos and their creators are like some sort of psychopathic comedy nightmare, moving into areas that you just cannot poke at for attention. I’m sure we’ve all encountered the photo of a dying baby, suffering with a terminal illness, an abnormal growth or a victim of cancer and below the picture is a tragic back story and this command to share the photo a million times or the baby will die. Firstly, I don’t want anyone to think I’m a heartless old man who thinks those that are ill should die off and leave room for me and I certainly don’t want anyone in the world to have to live with such horrid illnesses, nor do I wish them upon others, even the people I wouldn’t save from being hit by a bus. I just want to make it clear, the photo is not a miracle of medical science and sharing it has no benefit for the child. Doctors get to work the moment they receive a patient, case studies are not uploaded onto Facebook for the public to decide who gets medical attention and who gets thrown out. If a child receives less than one million likes on Facebook, unless the child has already passed away, the child is most likely stable or on the path to recovery whilst receiving support from a number of trained doctors and surgeons. However good your intentions may be, you cannot save a live by making a photograph appear on the Facebook news feed of half your home country. Correct me if I’m wrong but no global catastrophe or terminal illness was ever prevented by a photograph on the internet

Allow me to tell you the story of a little girl named Isobel, a new-born infant that was suffering with a terrible cancer on her brain that appeared as a lump on the side of her head. I mean to tread softly as possible here and I hope nobody takes offense so please let it be said, anything that is interpreted as rude is not intentional. Please also note the information may not be 100% accurate as I am relying on information received from people who identified with my outburst on the comments of her photo. Isobel was photographed, lying on a bed with this growth and clearly looking uncomfortable as she bravely fought against the cancer but what she didn’t know, nor did her parents, is that the strictly confidential photograph was leaked onto Facebook and made into an attention whoring campaign for admins on various tactless pages (You know the ones I’m talking about, the ones with page names written in something even a dyslexic person can spot spelling mistakes in and that offer you 2000 extra friends if you add their shirtless admin and tell him your name, age, occupation, bathroom habits and so forth). The photo came with a brief misinformed back story and the demand that people must share the photo for the child’s sake and that failure to do so is proof that you have no heart. Comments were disallowed unless it was sympathetic but still, the wiser users of Facebook, albeit the grumpier ones, voiced their disgust at what they saw. I would like to inform you all that the child in the photograph survived and received the necessary surgery to remove the cancer; the parents are overjoyed and the whole family is moving on gradually. Now I can’t understand why anyone would use the personal struggles of a stranger just to make themselves popular, it’s sick. The photo is available across the internet and it seems to just say to anyone who looks at this popularity campaign ‘This is the length that an idiot will go to if it makes them popular’. Heck, you’re not even impressing your friends, you’re trying to appeal to people you’ve never met and never will. Isobel’s family were outraged and awash in tears as they watched this photograph make its way across the world for all the wrong reasons. Isobel isn’t the only victim here. Starving orphans, seriously ill babies and sufferers of natural disasters are all exploited as ploys to get Facebook admins noticed.

I do not wish these people to die or become ill but should they ever suffer, I may just reach for a camera. However then again, I might not, for fear of sinking to their level. I couldn’t live a life where my moral standards sit lower down than the Earth’s crust. I don’t normally end on such sombre notes and I hope you all enjoyed this rant as much as I hope it made you think but to any admins out there, the line in the sand should not be crossed for the sake of a few more likes. I can tolerate your bombardment of photos of Bieber and Biersack, your pictures of Satan, of Jesus and of ghosts but if you ever exploit the suffering of another human being to get noticed, you’re not somebody I want to know