Sunday, October 19, 2014

There were were "Gamers" and then there were "Gamer Girls"

It must have been a boon to have grown up studying in an all-girl school. Being a girl felt normal. I wasn't aware of things like Feminism until my last year in high school. I wasn't aware of things like Objectification, Male Gaze and the Glass Ceiling, until these things were given a name.

In ads, a female body would be dismembered, showing only the prized parts--breasts, smooth white underarms or hairless legs. As a kid I never thought much of them, until the teacher explained that dismemberment is one such technique used to reduce a person to her individual parts. The psychological effect of singling out an area of flaw is similar to calling someone pimple-face when she has a pimple--that person could acquire a sense of insecurity, knowing that she isn't up to par with beauty standards.

Meanwhile, I became aware of Male Gaze by studying the scifi and fantasy books I read. Women in many of these books are described to be unbelievably beautiful, with long flowing locks, slender bodies and a veil of mystery. Male Gaze focuses on how men determine how a woman should look.

As for the role of the women in said scifi and fantasy stories? Their roles are tropes--witches, healers, and damsels in distress and of course, princesses. They become the wife of the male hero, or the undying supporter, or the object to be saved.

So a certain Sarkeesian thought about applying feminist critique to games. When I watched her videos, I gotta admit, the portrayal of women in games is very similar to those in the books I've read. They're tropes. They're too often the healer and the nurturer, when they're not the damsel in distress. I have always wished for a different characterization because it was tiring for me, a girl who likes to play games. I don't mind playing the hot macho men I usually crush on, but I would love to have a well rounded female character as well. Lightning from FF XIII doesn't count because she's like a girl version of FFVII's Cloud. And she just sucks. T_T

This isn't to say that women are ALWAYS playing those roles in games. But they often are. Even if there's a female warrior / fighter, she has to be dressed like these:

You'd think a woman would be smart enough to cover up when facing enemies right? But of course, Male Gaze won out and marketed women to be this way because these women probably sell better.

In any case, I still did enjoy playing those games. Despite the weirdly-dressed women, the games are still good. I just wish that critiquing the games won't be taken against "Gamer Girls". The job of feminist critique is to poke holes and look for areas of improvement in gender portrayals. Its shortcoming is that the roles of men are nowhere within its framework. An improvement in the framework might be an inclusion of male tropes as well. But that feels too intellectual for a blog post.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Unravelling Abuse

“When someone is unrelentingly critical of you, always finds fault, can never be pleased and blames you for everything that goes wrong, it is the insidious nature and cumulative effects of abuse that eats away at your self-confidence and self-worth, undermining any good feelings you have about yourself and your accomplishments.” The Emotionally Abusive Relationship by Beverly Eagle.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Licking Wounds

The dark story of my family life continues. Having been hit and verbally abused by a family member for years, I took the necessary step of finally moving out.

It's been a good two or so weeks since I left the abusive home where the relative still stays despite what he's done. Outside the family, people have been uncannily kind to me when they heard I have begun to rent. My close friends, if not comrades, in the office have even been offering to buy me lunch just so I won't have to eat instant noodles everyday this month. I paid rent and the advance deposit, plus bought a bed and some furniture, that's why I'm suddenly dirt poor. But I've been happy. I've started to laugh again and become positive at work. It made me feel like a new test is coming, which I didn't want to think, but which sadly did arrive.

I didn't expect it. Things just don't add up sometimes. I may have gotten a better job but that doesn't mean I'm shitting cash. I mean, who actually expects that? Why do people keep assuming I do shit cash? I already computed my budget and had a talk at home that I will need to reduce my contributions given that I'll be shelling out more than half of what I make every month to pay for my mortgage, rent and living expenses. I will also need to set aside 20% in case of emergencies as I don't have healthcare yet. I thought we were in agreement with that.

I then come home only to be shouted at about how my contributions aren't enough. I was even told that if I don't want to give money then don't. Oh, God. Why do these people think of me like I'm some stingy bitch who doesn't want to share money? It's not that I DON'T WANT to give. It's that I don't have the amount you want me to give. If I give that, there's a possibility I will be short of cash before next payday.

I've been eating canned beans and steamed vegetables for days just so I keep my daily cash out at Php 300. Such is the reality of someone just starting out, which when I tried to explain, I was promptly cut short and dismissed. My difficulties don't even matter because I apparently don't understand what they go through at home. Two weeks. I was away just two weeks. Will I need a bulletproof vest on my next visit?

I'd already offered to pay for dinner before I came home today. How come that doesn't even account for any good points on my account? I'm still the girl who doesn't know how to listen. Well let me pose the question, who declared "I don't want to talk about this" and who was screaming at the top of her lungs?

Maybe to some people, nothing is ever enough. They will wait for you to bleed your guts out, and still they won't see that you've tried to give your all. They will dismiss it as angst or drama, because theirs is the REAL suffering. Sadly the truth is everyone suffers in this world. And that's why God introduced kindness and compassion. For people who go to church every week, it's a surprise that I rarely see these in action.

Oh, I try to understand. But this event just wounds me yet again. Pain makes wounded animals bite.

(Readers of this blog must be wondering why I'm suddenly spilling the dirt on my life when I've kept up this noble facade of being an accomplished writer blah blah blah. I kept many secrets and didn't write anything close to home because this caused problems for me before. Well my writings are dirt. And I am dirt. Life will just have to take back the dirt it has thrown at me. I won't keep these secret anymore. Silence has done me no good)

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

LONTAR: The Journal of Southeast Asian Speculative Fiction Issue #3 is Out!

I just love, love the cover artworks done for this journal! This is issue 3's cover:

Reposting the details for this issue...

This issue of LONTAR presents speculative writing from and about Singapore, the Philippines, Cambodia and Taiwan.

 Inside these pages, you’ll find:

  • the evocation of an alternate ancient Cambodia from multiple award-winner Geoff Ryman;
  • an investigative automotive revenge tale from Palanca Grand Prize winner Dean Francis Alfar;
  • the mystery of magically appearing furniture from Taiwanese short fiction wunderkind Sabrina Huang (deftly translated by PEN/Heim grant recipient Jeremy Tiang);
  • an uneasy exploration of marital discord on the road from Manila Critics’ Circle National Book Award winner Nikki Alfar;
  • a quasi-Ballardian take on beach resort culture from Ben Slater;
  • the uniquely Singaporean response to a viral outbreak from JY Yang;
  • and speculative poetry from Anne Carly Abad, Arlene Ang, Tse Hao Guang, Cyril Wong, David Wong Hsien Ming and Daryl Yam.

This issue marks the handover of publication and distribution of LONTAR to Epigram Books.

  1. The More Things Change | Jason Erik Lundberg (editorial)
  2. A Field Guide to the Roads of Manila | Dean Francis Alfar (fiction)
  3. Setting Up Home | Sabrina Huang (trans. Jeremy Tiang) (fiction)
  4. Resort Time | Ben Slater (fiction)
  5. The Elephant in the Room | Anne Carly Abad (poetry)
  6. Before the Last War | David Wong Hsien Ming (poetry)
  7. Signs, or The Fate of Big-Footed Individuals | Daryl Yam (poetry)
  8. Harbour | Tse Hao Guang (poetry)
  9. Since We Stopped Communicating | Cyril Wong (poetry)
  10. Three Poems | Arlene Ang (poetry)
  11. Mother’s Day | JY Yang (fiction)
  12. An Unexpected Stop | Nikki Alfar (fiction)
  13. The Last Ten Years in the Life of Hero Kai | Geoff Ryman (fiction)