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Feminist geek critiques pop-culture
June 8, 2011 7:04 AM   Subscribe

Feminist Frequency is a videoblog by Anita Sarkeesian that critiques pop-culture from the perspective of a feminist geek. She explains her approach in this video. Among the topics she's covered in her videos are fembots, the boy's club veneer of file sharing sites and gendered toy ads. Sarkeesian has recently started to make a series of videos for Bitch Magazine called Tropes vs. Women, about "the reoccurring themes and representations of women in Hollywood films and TV shows." So far there are four episodes: The Manic Pixie Dream Girl, Women in Refrigerators, The Smurfette Principle and The Evil Demon Seductress.
posted by Kattullus (55 comments total) 60 users marked this as a favorite

 
Thanks for this. I had seen the Manic Pixie Dream Girl one before, now to catch up on the rest.
posted by Gordafarin at 7:11 AM on June 8, 2011


I am SHOCKED to discover that there are 2 dimensional characterizations occurring in Hollywood movies! Why hadn't I heard of this before?
posted by nathancaswell at 7:23 AM on June 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


I really enjoyed Women in Refrigerators, I never thought about just HOW common it is. The first role reversal of this trope that came to mind was Salt, and that was originally written for a male lead. (Which, by the way, I really wish they would do more. It made Salt so much more interesting than most movies I've seen with a female heroine.)
posted by [insert clever name here] at 7:35 AM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I wish she would write this stuff down, my attention is not geared to videoblogs and her work seems worth reading, even though I could only get through half of one episode.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 7:40 AM on June 8, 2011 [17 favorites]


One tiny critique about the Women In Refrigerators video - in Fable II, you could choose to play as a male or female hero. So yeah, you're still avenging your sister's death, but her death isn't necessarily a vehicle for a male's character development. For some reason, this bugged me enough that I felt the need to make a comment about it.

Thanks for the link though. Good stuff! Really!
posted by giraffe at 7:47 AM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I clicked on all those videos, and she's seems to be pointing out tropes that exists in media targeted primarily at men. Men want Manic Pixie Dream Girl. Progress is to be found that MPDG in movies today is more bittersweet, often tragic, compared to MPDG in movies from the 80's.

This is capitalism. In capitalism, you given the market what it wants. College guys want MPDG, comic book readers want sexually damaged superwomen with zero body fat but huge breasts, etc. You sell a product by giving the market what it wants.

Though I suppose this has value in informing women about how women are represented in the media that men are consuming.

A better critique would be Tropes vs Women in media directed at women, but perhaps I think that would be better because I have no idea what is in that media.
posted by Pastabagel at 7:48 AM on June 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Her eyebrows are freaking me out...
posted by ReeMonster at 7:51 AM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I clicked on all those videos, and she's seems to be pointing out tropes that exists in media targeted primarily at men.

So in your view, Inception is aimed primarily at men? And Garden State? And Five Hundred Days of Summer? And big-budget blockbusters like Batman and Spiderman and Pirates of the Caribbean movies? What movies do you think women attend?
posted by Elsa at 8:00 AM on June 8, 2011 [16 favorites]


My point being, of course, that Feminist Frequency and other media critics like her are pointing out: presumed-male entertainment is the default entertainment, and the vast numbers of women in the audiences are expected to accept that.
posted by Elsa at 8:01 AM on June 8, 2011 [40 favorites]


I'd agree with her criticism of comic books, given those are solidly western products. All the authors should try addressing her criticism. I'd bet like half even had a course in women's studies in university.

Your torrent indexes sites are otoh often hosted, and de-facto run, in misogynistic eastern european jurisdictions though. By comparison, you'll notice the more corporate, and oddly thus more legitimate, bitlocker sites usually advertise gamboling, not porn.

There is always the option of building a better torrent index site of course. And hire a women as the advertising director. You could even launch a feminist ad block plugin that help reduce revenue for sexist ads. Just do it.

Also, there remains enormous opportunities for developing the next great file sharing solution. Your position as author of the "west coast law" would let you influence the economics of the advertising employed. You could even do a PhD in distributed hash table algorithms and get paid to write the software too.

posted by jeffburdges at 8:01 AM on June 8, 2011


Women watch movies, too. They read comics. They play video games. They enjoy books. Hell, I think they participate in all media consumption. Women, I think, even pay money for these things. This makes women full invested in The Market and one of the many persons The Market actively seeks. The idea that these mediums are, in fact, not "male" or "female" but available to all persons with interest seems to be a larger point to her videos.

I don't think anyone actually is confused as to Why these tropes exist. It is important to note- outloud and everything- that they are harmful and limiting because it still apparently needs to be digested.

Like this guy over here I've tricked into my bedroom with my boobs.
posted by cheap paper at 8:04 AM on June 8, 2011 [9 favorites]


Yeah...couldn't get through any of these. I think I'm spoiled by more interesting video-blogging personalities like Sarah Haskins Target Women and Jay Smooth's Ill Doctrine.

I agree with Ice Cream Socialist above, she should really just write these out as articles because she has some great points.
posted by windbox at 8:06 AM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


But more women pay to see movies than men do, so why are mainstream movies "targeted primarily at men"?

Capitalism does not explain this. Backward ideas about what movies are and should be and who they should appeal to, regardless of who's actually watching them? Those come a lot closer to explaining why there are so few movies with people like me. (Not in terms of being an action hero. I get that however hard I work out, I'm unlikely ever to be an action hero/space marine/warrior princess. But I'm not a sidekick in my own life, dammit.)
posted by asperity at 8:06 AM on June 8, 2011 [18 favorites]


Speaking of fembots... The Japanese have really been advancing in creepy robot technology.
posted by delmoi at 8:11 AM on June 8, 2011


The manic pixie dream girl video was mostly thoughtful but I think she missed the boat on 500 Days of Summer. The female character turned out not to be a manic pixie dream girl. That was ironically, the whole point of the movie.
posted by storybored at 8:12 AM on June 8, 2011 [10 favorites]


Pastabagel: This is capitalism. In capitalism, you given the market what it wants. College guys want MPDG, comic book readers want sexually damaged superwomen with zero body fat but huge breasts, etc. You sell a product by giving the market what it wants.

This is lazy capitalism, and/or lazy moviemaking. The lowest common denominator is appeased with these elements, but to make something that lasts, it has to do more than appeal to as many people as possible. Pop Culture produced to rake in fast cash may follow these tropes in the simplest way, but entertainment with lasting appeal has more than cookie cutter figurines. Entertainment, at least in western cultures, is a blend of art and capitalism.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:12 AM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was hopeful about these video posts and watched a few of them. I think her underlying fundamental argument is kind of weak and limited in scope though. Her typical argument seems to be "Hollywood always or usually portrays women as [stereotype/trope X]. Here are a "seemingly endless" handful of examples from recent Hollywood history to prove that this is pervasive. [Stereotype/trope X] has always existed in Hollywood( which is the biggest source of meaning for everyone, so no need to think about any influence outside or before Hollywood), and has never changed or evolved. [Stereotype/trope X] is obviously always 100% negative for women in the real world, pure and simple, and used for the benefit of men. [X] is also always completely unrealistic and purely male fantasy. Hey Hollywood writers/directors/producers! Stop using [X]! Real women are full, complete human beings who are artists and heroes! Make all your female characters in your movies, be it a summer action blockbuster or indie rom-com, like REAL women instead!"

I think she would have a stronger argument if she 1) focussed on criticizing and changing the political/economic/social cultural *structure and processes* (through realistic tactics & strategies) that promotes the dominance of particular tropes rather than slamming the tropes themselves with obvious criticisms; 2) located the discussion in a broader historical/cultural context 3) Stop relying on simple good/bad dichotomies 4) Recognize that women have agency as users of fantasies and tropes that don't have to be 100% politically correct AND can also be simultaneously be rational, empowered and critical.
posted by Bwithh at 8:12 AM on June 8, 2011 [7 favorites]


Oh, and if you don't have patients to watch the whole video here's a relevant section that relates to the feminist issue with fembots.
posted by delmoi at 8:13 AM on June 8, 2011


(That's a link to another time point in the same japanese fembot video I linked above)
posted by delmoi at 8:14 AM on June 8, 2011


This is capitalism. In capitalism, you given the market what it wants. College guys want MPDG, comic book readers want sexually damaged superwomen with zero body fat but huge breasts, etc. You sell a product by giving the market what it wants.

You may not realize this, but "capitalism" is not a neutral force, like solar energy or gravity, though I grant that it is often treated that way by those who discuss economics.

Capitalism is a human creation and subject to the freaks, twists, illogical preferences, and prejudices of its creators. Human desire is also somewhat subject to manipulation, often by limiting choices. If you only see burgers on the menu, you may never think to ask for a chicken breast; meanwhile, your restaurant validates its decision to not offer chicken breasts by saying "but everyone loves our hamburgers!"

Or perhaps chicken breasts are on the menu, but on the back, and more expensive, and have no description, whereas burgers are on the front, with pictures of each kind and loving descriptions of each kind, and all kinds of sales and specials to buy them. Then the restaurant can say "Well, we offered chicken breasts, but clearly, the market prefers burgers! We are just giving the people what they want."
posted by emjaybee at 8:20 AM on June 8, 2011 [22 favorites]


I wish she would write this stuff down

But then how would I know that she's a pretty well-groomed white girl wearing makeup and a scoopneck tee-shirt? She could be, you know, a feminist – or a geek!

SARCASM!
posted by nicwolff at 8:23 AM on June 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


There is also an enormous inertia of advertising theory here. Advertisers would naturally cater more towards women if their underlying theory gives them more tools for manipulating women as easily as they manipulate men. Can anyone here who works in advertising comment?
posted by jeffburdges at 8:26 AM on June 8, 2011


Ice Cream Socialist: I wish she would write this stuff down, my attention is not geared to videoblogs and her work seems worth reading, even though I could only get through half of one episode.

Sarkeesian's site has full transcripts of every video. Her videos are also usually close-captioned (the "cc" button) and most often offer more than one language option for the captions.
posted by Kattullus at 8:28 AM on June 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


For everybody that wants these to be written down - she provides full transcripts of all the videos if you go the individual videos on the site.
posted by bookwo3107 at 8:28 AM on June 8, 2011


Bah. Simultaneous'd!
posted by bookwo3107 at 8:29 AM on June 8, 2011


In her 'the boy's club veneer of file sharing sites' video, the concern she is trying to address is a valid one, but gets bogged down in how she is presenting it. It's not about file sharing, the selection of files available, or the number of sites that have torrent files. It's the advertising. OK, then why not make the advertising the real point of her statement, and not wrap it in the specific context of file sharing?

The problem that the advertisers don't see females as a marketable audience in many tech oriented sites is an absolutely valid point. The need to organize some way to let advertisers realize they are missing a vital demographic is clear.

So, if advertisers can only guess at which gender is viewing certain pages, a somewhat simple solution would be for browsers to have a setting that indicated the user's gender, nothing more. Ads could be catered to that fact alone, and at least address a small part of the problem. Demographics could be adjusted to show much more accurate representation of genders across the web.

Ok, so you have more accurate numbers, but the content of female-targeted ads are the next issue. A call for more for female directed tech ads, for example, will certainly be needed, and having the demographic numbers to back it up will be very helpful.

It may be more effective to build a 'girl's club' first to be seen as a marketable audience to advertisers, and then have a partial merging of the 'boys' and 'girls' club, for a more balanced representation in areas that are traditionally seen as male interest areas. Just trying to 'tear down the boys club' will not be as effective to address the issues she is presenting.
posted by chambers at 8:34 AM on June 8, 2011


Sarkeesian's site has full transcripts of every video.

Hey, thanks!
posted by Greg Nog at 8:35 AM on June 8, 2011


Advertisers would naturally cater more towards women if their underlying theory gives them more tools for manipulating women as easily as they manipulate men. Can anyone here who works in advertising comment?
That's completely ridiculous. Advertisers actually cater more to women then they do to men. Women do much more shopping, they typically do the shopping for the households, and that's why stuff like cleaners and housekeeping stuff is advertised to them.

The 'manipulation' is based on taking advantage of their insecurities.

The thing is when it comes to geek media of course most of the advertising is geared towards guys, since most of the target demo is dudes. If there were a way to get ads in front of primarily geek girls, then you'd see ads targeting them too. But that niche isn't too big and how do you target them separately from the guys?
posted by delmoi at 8:35 AM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


She makes good points in her videos as a whole, but I do find "I feel excluded by the ads I see in the process of stealing True Blood episodes" to be an odd battleground to stake out. (I base this on the screenshots of the tracker site she used in the video.)
posted by dvorak_beats_qwerty at 8:37 AM on June 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Do ads targeting women play any more on insecurities than ads targeting men?
posted by jeffburdges at 8:39 AM on June 8, 2011


jeffburdges: Do ads targeting women play any more on insecurities than ads targeting men?

Try changing your gender on Facebook. It's kinda shocking to see the difference. Facebook targets ads based on stated gender in profile.
posted by Kattullus at 8:43 AM on June 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm unsure that "advertisers cater more to women since women do the shopping" either, certainly that held during the 50s, but not necessarily today. In fact, my originally "theory" comment was based upon the vague idea that, over the last 50 years, advertising to women may've changed more than advertising to men. I don't know that stuff however.
posted by jeffburdges at 8:44 AM on June 8, 2011


The thing is when it comes to geek media of course most of the advertising is geared towards guys, since most of the target demo is dudes. If there were a way to get ads in front of primarily geek girls, then you'd see ads targeting them too. But that niche isn't too big and how do you target them separately from the guys?

How hard is it to put geek girls in ads, along with guys? To show them enjoying your product, using it, saying clever one-liners about it?

People are attracted to ads that feature people like themselves. Put women in ads (as people, not as sex toys) and women will respond to those ads.

And you don't have to target them separately--you can target them along with.

I mean, pick up an issue of Bust. It's chock-full of cute geekish girls doing fun things. This is not rocket science.
posted by emjaybee at 8:46 AM on June 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


How hard is it to put geek girls in ads, along with guys? To show them enjoying your product, using it, saying clever one-liners about it?

Until ad creators have the demographic numbers to back it up, most are going to be hesitant about putting the extra money into the dual gender photo shoot/stock photo rights purchase. They may find that although women have a smaller percentage of users in the tech market, they may find that women actually respond more and purchase significantly more than men who view tech ads. Those are the numbers that will make some positive changes in recognizing the need to address both genders in web/tech advertising.

Find a way to show them the audience with site by site numbers on which gender is viewing what, and ads will change accordingly. The ad companies want to make money. Move the choice they make from an 'fair play/respect the gender' angle to a 'you can make money with this' and the wheels will move much faster.
posted by chambers at 9:02 AM on June 8, 2011


since most of the target demo is dudes. If there were a way to get ads in front of primarily geek girls, then you'd see ads targeting them too. But that niche isn't too big and how do you target them separately from the guys?

Currently advertisers get ads in front of geek girls (intentionally or not) by putting them in the places that geek girls frequent, which are, in many cases, the exact same sites that geek guys frequent. And you know what would make those ads more effective at reaching geek girls (and the geek guys who are tuned into the ways that mainstream and geek cultures objectify and/or exclude women, and don't like it)? Pretty much exactly what emjaybee says. I don't want to be targeted separately in advertising (particularly not by what advertisers think is "feminine" and "appealing to women"), but would respond very positively to advertising or other media that include people like me, rather than make us invisible.

I dabble along the fringes of a lot of geek cultures, and I see a lot of people who aren't middle-class, white or male hanging out here with me. We're not that hard to find, if someone is looking. The question is, is anyone looking? asperity's excellent "why there are so few movies with people like me" link indicates that precious few people seem to be.
posted by EvaDestruction at 9:06 AM on June 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Until ad creators have the demographic numbers to back it up, most are going to be hesitant about putting the extra money into the dual gender photo shoot/stock photo rights purchase. They may find that although women have a smaller percentage of users in the tech market, they may find that women actually respond more and purchase significantly more than men who view tech ads. Those are the numbers that will make some positive changes in recognizing the need to address both genders in web/tech advertising.

So chambers, you are saying that advertising is worthless, then? Because the point of ads is to reach new purchasers, not just to market to the ones you already have.

I find this reasoning extremely circular. "Show us that you will buy from us, and then we'll put you in our ads, ladies!" This is not how advertising works.

And you really think that adding women to an existing photo shoot (assuming the manufacturers don't just, you know, use stock photos, which last I checked did not charge more for those with ladies in them) is some kind of unprecedented, outrageous expense...that it costs more than branded giveaway pens or lanyards? Bollocks, I say.

All these arguments about how women must somehow prove ourselves worthy of being marketed to...to have the right to have women's faces show up on fucking banner ads...just betray that it's not about money, it's about preconceived notions of who the customer is, and even of who the customer ought to be.
posted by emjaybee at 9:11 AM on June 8, 2011 [14 favorites]


If women are viewing, say, movies that star men doing manly man things with an occasional girlfriend, then hey, it's ok, women will watch those movies. If they don't, well, women barely watch movies as it is, why bother to make movies for them?

Companies might want to make money, but they are made up of people who have biases. Those biases are generally racist, sexist, heterocentric, Christian-centric, etc. A company cannot magically transcend these just because of the goal "earn money" because it cannot act independent of all these biased people.
posted by jeather at 9:14 AM on June 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


I came across a vivid example of Woman in Refrigerator back in the 70s (possibly early 80's) when I still enjoyed reading adventure books. Wilbur Smith was a favorite author of mine but he used rape in order to "send a message" to the hero. After a plane crash the hero's girlfriend is left with a broken leg and she is found by the black rebels who line up to rape her and then line up again to sodomize her. She is told to tell her boyfriend who is responsible for this. I threw the book down at that point and decided that I just couldn't read Wilbur Smith ever again, in fact it pretty much put me off adventure books. The idea that the author put his female character through such torture just to galvanize the boyfriend turned my stomach.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 9:14 AM on June 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


All these arguments about how women must somehow prove ourselves worthy of being marketed to

The strategy I presented was to do an end-run that bypasses the male centered assumptions ad companies make, and have them follow the money. The idea being that you can tell and advertiser that they are missing a market, and ignoring a huge amount of customers, and hope they believe your argument, or you show them the data that can help change how advertisers see the market, and show that it isn't as much of a 'boys club' as they think. The gender marker on a browser idea was to forcefully show by the numbers how varied the browsing habits and interests of women are, and knock down dated assumptions of what women are interested in. That can be a big help in changing media portrayals in ads and other media.
posted by chambers at 9:23 AM on June 8, 2011


jeffburdges: I'm unsure that "advertisers cater more to women since women do the shopping" either, certainly that held during the 50s, but not necessarily today.

FYI women control 70 cents of every household dollar spent right here in 2011.
posted by DarlingBri at 9:33 AM on June 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


an end-run that bypasses the male centered assumptions ad companies make

This is complicated further, though, by the fact that there's much more underpinning those assumptions than pure numbers. Previously on MeFi, we had Hulk-Marg smashing Sony's girl-aimed gaming marketing campaign for its pastels + ponies approach, which I highly recommend checking out, as it is awesome.

I do think that an issue here is that companies are focusing less on maximizing profit by maximizing sales than on maximizing profit by minimizing advertising costs (including doing the market research to understand the full range and interests of their potential audience and what messaging will be effective). But I think this also goes on to interact with gendered stereotypes about peoples' interests in that I don't think will be solved by just showing companies the numbers, because (going by the Facebook ads that I block at every opportunity), there are a lot of misplaced assumptions made about my interests and concerns based on my sex, and I would be really skeptical of most corporations and advertising agencies' ability to create an advertising campaign for a comic book or video game that would appeal to people like me without first doing some serious research and questioning of assumptions.
posted by EvaDestruction at 10:35 AM on June 8, 2011


Sarkeesian's site has full transcripts of every video.

Thanks, I missed that when I watched the video on YouTube. Much appreciated.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 10:38 AM on June 8, 2011


I dunno. I agree with the main gist of most of the videos, but the points she makes tend to be pretty unsubtle and not especially thoughtful, and she's got a weirdly priggish anti-sex vibe that makes it hard to take her seriously. You can just hear the moral righteousness when she says "porno fantasy." Basically, if you're the kind of person who's watching these videos, you're almost certainly already going to be in agreement with her--and you're not gonna learn anything you didn't already know--and if you somehow aren't in the choir, then it's pretty unlikely you're going to be convinced to change your mind by any of her stuff.
posted by nasreddin at 2:15 PM on June 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


She makes a lot of good points. However, I take issue with the "manic pixie dream girl" thing. This is nothing more than a character with a relatively common, and appealing, personality type, generally with few problems and a high level of energetic expression. People-oriented, extrovert behavior. Under the DISC assessment model, it's the "Influencer" type, or the very similar "four temperaments" model, they are sanguines. Under Myers-Briggs, they tend to be ESFP.

A MPDG is just a sanguine personality in robust mental and physical health, or at least, appearing to be. Part of the trope of the movie is that

Conversely, the "morose guy who needs to be cheered up so he can fix the world" is just the opposite quadrant, the task-oriented introvert. In these movies, he (occasionally she) is normally presented starting, or quickly put, in a bad place, full of self-doubt (a short trip for the melancholy type), with things not going well for him. "Opposites attract" is a cliche for a reason. As a "Conscientious" type, melancholy, INTP, I can relate to the appeal of the manic pixie dream girl, in theory. I find a lot of her behaviors and traits compellingly attractive. In practice, the "always on" thing becomes incredibly irritating (as, no doubt, the pessimistic analytical thing would irritate and depress her), however, fortunately, we as real people are far more complex, and all of us are capable of expressing our tendencies to greater and lesser degrees. (Anita Sarkeesian looks to be the conscientious analyzer type herself, and probably finds bubbleheaded, giggly behavior incredibly annoying for that reason. If an enthusiastic exclamation of "Everyone stand up and hug the person next to you!" at a dinner party makes you groan and grit your teeth ... you're the task-oriented type too. :D)

"Joyful, lively, happy" and "intellectual, pessimistic, self-critical" are just the opposite romantic cross-pairing of "bold, aggressive, driven" and "laid-back, mild, relaxed". Real people really do that. (Of course, sameness attracts as well.)

Regarding temperament-typing and personality testing in general, it is very important to remember that these are not like the mythical star sign personalities, inborn and forever fixed; they are just interaction models, and the dullest real people are far more complex than any fictional character. Most people tend fairly strongly by nature, nurture, reinforcement and habituation to express one primary interaction model most, with one or two secondary tendencies. (It gets even complex than that, with cross-type characteristics.) Everyone has some of everything in them, and we may choose to express or suppress our traits as the situation requires.

Certainly an MPDG character can be "fridged", sidelined, made unimportant and existing only as a foil to prompt a main (male) character to action, or a muse to inspire him. Certainly she can be one-dimensionally cheery, happy, as shallow as a pie-dish, as indeed any other character (including the main character) may be one-dimensionally analytical and morose, lazy and uninvolved, aggressive and forceful, as shallow as a pie-dish in their other various ways. This is the fault of the author's poor writing, not the choice to assign a particular personality type to a character.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 6:22 PM on June 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


Oh for a two-minute edit window.

Part of the trope of the movie is that she is (apparently) in a good place, and therefore able and willing to reach out to him, and he needs her influence. This isn't all that different from "dumb kid overreaches and loses the way, reaches out to wise mentor". Stories about people who don't need anything, or who interact with people who can't or won't meet their needs, aren't very compelling stories.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 6:26 PM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


But don't you think it's interesting to look at the two or three repeated tropes that poor writers fall back on? Why those, and why not something else?

I'm unsure that "advertisers cater more to women since women do the shopping" either, certainly that held during the 50s, but not necessarily today.

As DarlingBri mentioned above, women control the majority of household spending. And as a little bit of anecdata, the only time my local shopping centre has a 50/50 ratio of men to women is on the Saturdays before Valentine's Day (sometimes) and Mother's Day (always). The rest of the time it's about 75% women in the general area, and up to 90% in the supermarket.
posted by harriet vane at 10:07 PM on June 8, 2011


Sell to my unique essence, else I'm not buying.
posted by eegphalanges at 12:33 AM on June 9, 2011


If this woman is so smart, how come she can't find AdBlock Plus?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:58 AM on June 9, 2011


Just because we have AdBlock Plus doesn't mean some other marginalized, feminist consumer/victim is not being exposed to sexist advertising. We must think of them--and, more importantly--for them. They will buy silly things because of tropes: this injustice will not stand.
posted by eegphalanges at 2:47 AM on June 9, 2011


Do ads targeting women play any more on insecurities than ads targeting men?

In the feminist worldview (at least this, common, one), men's insecurities are non-existent or at least irrelevant.
posted by gjc at 6:08 AM on June 9, 2011


In the feminist worldview (at least this, common, one), men's insecurities are non-existent or at least irrelevant.

Uhh... no. You are very much mistaken about the "feminist worldview".
posted by palomar at 7:53 AM on June 9, 2011


In the feminist worldview (at least this, common, one), men's insecurities are non-existent or at least irrelevant.

No. While the name should be a cue that the focus is on female issues, male insecurities, for example the immense pressure to be an invulnerable macho brick wall, are a common contrast held up to mirror the pressure to be a spun glass virginal mother. If you're looking for a less gendered focus you want to try our parent department of humanism.

And if you watch Sarkeesian's videos, you'll note, for example in gendered toys, she addresses this particular issue... that the stuff for boys is just as crazy, sexist and toxic as the stuff for girls.
posted by Phalene at 7:59 AM on June 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


But that niche isn't too big and how do you target them separately from the guys?

As of 2010, women make up 33% of all gamers, including over 400,000 women who play World of Warcraft (just under half of North American WoW players). How common is it to see a female-oriented game ad, or even a female player -- not a bikini babe -- in a male-oriented game ad? Gaming is my personal geek niche, but I have to start to wonder how much women need to participate before they're considered a valid market.

Heck, look at Bridesmaids. Before that movie if you had asked almost any exec in Hollywood if a raunchy comedy starring women would make any money, they would have laughed you out of the office. (Fortunately Bridesmaids had the backing of Judd Apatow, which opens a lot of doors.) $110 million dollars later, looks like they would have been wrong.

I think there's more of a niche out there than "the markets" know.
posted by jess at 12:07 PM on June 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's weird to watch her video on toy ads as a huge brony. She's totally right in that we'd be better off if children weren't advertised to, but damnit RAINBOW DASH!
posted by The Devil Tesla at 5:20 PM on June 11, 2011


From the few pieces that I watched it seemed like her points were well made, but I don't know if they were really all that surprising. Seems like she is going through the dictionary of common tropes, defining them, and providing examples -- very elementary stuff really.

I think I prefer Sara Haskins' tackling of pop-culture misogyny; she focuses on unusual targets and presents them in a different way. I realize that not everybody can use humor to make their point, but unless Feminist Geek is going to get into a deeper level of analysis, I don't think her criticisms can take so much rant.
posted by Think_Long at 9:23 AM on June 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


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