Popularizing Victim Blaming and Bullying

Victim blaming:  the act of blaming and/or shaming a victim because of the fact they were victimized.  This often happens to people who are deemed “weaker” in some manner, which usually equates to someone being different or unable to take up for themselves.  Personally, the victim blaming I encountered as a child had a lot to do with bullying, and not just from my peers.

Sure, I was made fun of for my looks and status.  Those are minor things and I like to think I handled them well.  It really only hurt when the bullying actually changed the outcome and efficiency of the education I was receiving and made me feel unsafe.  I remember being so afraid to walk to school alone, despite living less than 500 feet from my high school, just because of some boys that would drive by and insult/threaten me on the basis that I had rejected one of their advances.  When I became so fed up with it, I reported it to a vice principal who, instead of reprimanding the boys, told me that I should consider wearing pants more often.  I had grown out of a tomboy stage and rather enjoyed wearing dresses and skirts, and it wasn’t like I was wearing club clothes to school.

I remember being even more confused because just two years prior, in middle school, a teacher told me I would get picked on less if I did not dress so much like a boy.  Basically,  it was all my fault that I was bullied to the point of fearing for my safety, and there was no way I could fix it without being disowned by my peers and even my teachers.

At one point I had accepted a ride during lunch from one of the boys.  He had been acting friendly and I thought this was my chance to show him in particular that I was not a “bitch” or a “whore” and maybe he would tell his friends to leave me alone.  This ride turned into him trying to pressure me for sex and me walking all the way back to school while he drove slowly behind me, acting as if he would run me over or trying to scare me by blowing his horn or yelling.  Ultimately I was told that I simply should not have accepted the ride.  Again, it was my fault as the victim, and he was clear to behave that way, even as he passed rumors around the school and posted my private information places.

Again, I was confused, because had I not accepted the ride I would still be a bitch/whore (yes, “whore” for rejecting sexual advances) to him and his friends.  Because I accepted the ride, I was still a bitch and a whore to everyone he knew and had to worry about being run over, or potentially kidnapped, and still dealt with being humiliated in public at school.

There are over a dozen worse incidents that I am reluctant to share here for the sake of my own privacy and feelings, but I will sum it up by saying my safety and my life was truly threatened soon after.

Now I will share with you a meme I have seen passed around on Facebook that has over 30,000 shares and is posted originally by the Facebook group “Right Wing News”.

You can find the original upload here: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=609681209092012&set=a.401034789956656.90394.389658314427637&type=1 Thanks for ruining an image of an adorable penguin-thing, by the way.

You can find the original upload here.
Thanks for ruining an image of an adorable penguin-thing, by the way.  Seriously, why do you just take the picture of a cute animal and post serious societal gripes over them?  What did the penguin creature ever do to your hatred of anti-bullying movements?

In summary, this mentality suggests that it is most important to teach kids how to cope with being bullied instead of teaching them not to bully, as portrayed in the insensitivity to anti-bullying movements.  It suggests that bullying is a minor thing, and that the word “victim” is an insult to apply to a person, as evident in the term “society of victims”.  They want you to believe a victim is someone who cannot cope or stand up for themselves, and therefore deserving of being victimized.

Agreed:  It is important that we prepare our children for the hardships of life because there will always be people who seek to bully others either as children or adults.  Those people will likely not miraculously disappear.  Simple bullying can be forgiven and forgotten, but make no mistake: the bullying many experience is not simple by any means.  It is dangerous and devastating.  In fact, there are children who are bullied cannot stand up for themselves or else the bullying gets worse.  For me, not only did the bullying get worse, my education was threatened by the system itself; zero tolerance policy school systems require that all parties are disciplined.  When verbally standing up for myself by telling bullies to stop or leave me alone, I would also be sent to the office and suspended or placed in isolation.  This would hurt my grades.

It is even more important to prepare our youth to achieve good feelings and accomplishments in life without bullying.  When we do this, we slim the numbers of bullies and we lessen the amount of victims in the process.  We also build stronger people, who learned that they could experience feeling good about themselves through something constructive instead of pushing their peers around emotionally and/or physically.

While my personal experiences with bullying did result in thicker skin and my ability to cope while under stress became stronger, it also resulted in an integrated fear of men, a poor educational experience, deeply ingrained social anxiety, depression, physical trauma, emotional trauma, and suicidal thoughts.  I did not need to be bullied to learn how to cope and I sure as hell did not deserve to have to constantly cope with the bullying.  Instead, the aggressors should have been punished accordingly and if they did not stop the bullying they should have been removed from the situation altogether.

Instead of worrying about a so-called “society of victims”, we should probably be worrying about how many of our children develop extreme bullying habits.  Children who start bullying at a young age are very likely to grow into young men and women who get what they want via bullying.  This results in its own set of problems. By inspiring people to be insensitive to anti-bullying movements and failing to teach against bullying, you are creating a society of victims.  It’s simple math.  More bullies = more victims of bullying. Definition of “Victim”:

1:  a living being sacrificed to a deity or in the performance of a religious rite
2:  one that is acted on and usually adversely affected by a force or agent <the schools are victims of the social system>: as

(1) :  one that is injured, destroyed, or sacrificed under any of various conditions <a victim of cancer> <a victim of the auto crash> <a murder victim> (2) :  one that is subjected to oppression, hardship, or mistreatment <a frequent victim of political attacks> b :  one that is tricked or duped <a con man’s victim>

As you can see, victim does not mean “weakling, whiner, insignificant, deserving of victimization” as inferred by the victim-blaming mentality.

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Gaming & Femininity

When it comes to participating in male dominated communities, there is one piece of advice I hear given to women time and time again that I must disagree with whole heartedly.  This advice comes from both men and women, and that is to “hide your femininity” in some way.  “Don’t attach your gender to anything you do”, “Don’t be a ‘girl gamer’ or a ‘gamer girl'”, or “Don’t use your gender to cite opinions/ideas”.  Well, perhaps in a completely gender neutral world this would work, but the message I get from that advice is simply “don’t be a woman” or perhaps “don’t be proud you’re female and instead hide yourself.”  The first red flag indicating this advice is backwards is that I often find it on articles about being female in the gaming community, which strikes me as a little confusing.  You’re participating in an advice column about how you’ve entered the gaming industry or became a successful gamer while dealing with negative stereotypes about your gender, and the best thing you can tell us is to be fearful of your feminine interactions?

I suppose some of this advice is misunderstood or ill-explained.  Perhaps they mean to not boast of your gender and try to use it to leverage yourself over others, but it seems to me that statement could be used for both men and women and just as bluntly stated.

It is even more confusing when simple terms such as “girl gamer” or “gamer girl” are used as a vulgar statement rather than an informative one.  For example, a poster on my blog comments “It’s the way “gamer girls” carry themselves in games […] Gamer girls are attention hogs where as women who play video games are equal to the men they play with.”

It is not unlike I have not come across a female (Maybe, you never know–could have been a male in real life!) who has used her gender to garner attention to herself for selfish reasons such as receiving free stuff in games.  The problem I have with this idea, however, is that “gamer girl” is a tag that can be applied to any female gamer without her own doing.  While I have always related myself as a gamer (and you caught me being female at the same time), I have been referred to as “gamer girl” before by other players.  Sometimes the referral was innocent and made by a friendly person to simply describe me as a gamer who happens to be female, and other times it was done out of spite by more hateful acquaintances.  Maybe I won in a match, maybe my brand of humor wasn’t appreciated, maybe they thought my picture on a forum was ugly, maybe they thought I was cheating, maybe they thought the way I played the game was not up to their standards.

It doesn’t matter.  What matters is that all it takes is someone accusing a woman of being a whore to start a reputation shame.  This is a problem that extends beyond the gaming community, but is will represented here due to the concentrated macho nature of attitudes.  Furthermore, an “attention hog” can only receive as much attention as is given to them.

So why are we using a simple, informative term as a derogatory term?  In my opinion, it is an easy way to have a “shame card” to play on female gamers while feigning discriminatory innocence because you can claim that there are female gamers out there who do not view men as lessers.  In reality, only few women who proudly embrace their own gender view men as anything less than equal.  In reality, these women are often shamed and put down by men, and even other women.  And, in reality, there are plenty of men out there who do not do this to women and are unfortunate to be surrounded by numerous men who do.

Telling a woman what really makes them a true gamer is part of the offense in the first place.  Saying that only true gamers, or respectable gamers, do not embrace their feminity is just another way to subdue women from a hobby they enjoy.

In the end, I feel that it is all about balance and option.  If a woman chooses not to be feminine, that is 100% percent fine.  If a man chooses to be feminine, that is 100% fine.  If a woman chooses to embrace her femininity, then let her.  She enjoys being female and has the bare minimum right to express herself in lingual mannerisms that could identify her as a female in a digital world.

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Might and Magic X : Steam Pre-Release

I have made mention of an all time favorite game series of mine called Might and Magic in this previous post.  Since then a pre-release of a new title to the series has been made available on Steam.  This pre-release package costs $29.99 and comes with both Might and Magic VI and a modding package to play around with.  I’m excited to re-play Might and Magic VI for the first time in a decade, but have not messed with the modding utilities yet. [I’ve never been very good at modding and I’m sure all I’ll accomplish is building a square room with a crate, a skeleton, and a bunch of cats.]

For those who are not familiar with the series, Might and Magic was around about a decade ago with several classic releases.  You may have heard of Might and Magic in regards to the more well known strategy series of the same universe/lore, but the games I am talking about are early 3D open world RPGs.  Might and Magic 6, 7, and 8 are usually the most loved among the fans of the RPG and are my personal favorites as well.  Unfortunately Might and Magic 9 was not very good due to a lack of development (3DO, the company in charge of M&M as well as titles like Army Men went under), and other releases under the Might and Magic name also fell flat to fans and newcomers alike.  So, ten years later I see Might and Magic X and naturally I feel as if a unicorn has vomited rainbows of happiness into my intestines.  Another chance for such a wonderful series!

Before I start depicting my opinions of the pre-release, I must emphasize the fact that what is available to play right now is indeed just that:  a pre-release.  Beta.  Unfinished.  A work in progress.  So, I will refrain from commenting on any broken mechanics of the game and focus only on what seems to be most intended.

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In game UI hasn’t changed much. Simplicity appreciated.

Might and Magic X – Legacy does feel like the older games for many reasons, but there are some shortcomings I noticed almost immediately.  My biggest problem with this game is the movement system.  While I understand that the previous installments were technically based off of a tile system (imagine using only your up, down, right, left arrows to navigate most of the game), Might and Magic X has you walking on predetermined rails with very little mobility of your own.  Literally just turning yourself around is about as adventurous as this tile/rail based system gets.  This sort of movement was fine in the earliest installments, such as the Might and Magic Xeen series, which was played on PC, Mac, and SNES in the late 80s and early 90s, but in the case of Might and Magic X it feels more limiting than it is fluid.

There is also a complete lack of an Y axis, so while you will never have to worry about falling off of a ledge, there will likely be no puzzles, hidden secrets at hard to reach spots, or recreational adventuring that spells like Flight or Jump brought us.

Over all, the reason I feel like the movement system in this game lacks in comparison to its 20 year old predecessors with the same tile based system is that it feels unnecessarily clunky in combination with the combat system.  Its even more complicated when the pathways you are given to walk down are very narrow and a knee-level rock next to you can completely obstruct your ability to fight a monster.  Just give that cave troll a whole sixty seconds to maneuver itself around 3 tiles so it can swing its club at you and maybe you can get a chance to shoot it with a bow before dying of boredom and charging it when its your turn to move.  It really makes me wish the developers decided to base the gameplay off of 6, 7, and 8 and incorporate things from the Xeen games instead of the other way around.

Speaking of turns, the combat system is turn-based.  In 6-8, turn base combat was an option.  This had its own set of issues, such as the game becoming way too easy for power nukers by enabling your party to blow through enemies before they could even fire a lightning bolt at your cleric, but damnit, you had the option!  The lack of option further makes me feel claustrophobic in Legacy.  If a monster was approaching me from an awkward tile in one of the previous games, I could take off turn-based and give it a chance to get around its corner before being distracted by the blinking lights on my router.

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C’mon lil guy, you can do it… just one more strafe and we can exchange some dice rolls.
I CAN SEE YOU BUT I CANNOT SHOT YOU.

The main township in Legacy is instanced, too, which further takes away from the open world feeling I loved so much in 6-8.  No more can I “accidentally” drag territorial swarms of dragonflies into town and watch “helplessly” as they overpower the guards and murder villagers that “coincidentally” had necessary quest items on their bodies.  This wouldn’t be such a drag if you could at least flee into a city when something you are in combat with is stuck ramming itself into a boulder five tiles away.

Regardless of these flaws, Legacy is still reminiscent of the older games in many other ways.  Its party creation screen and UI are a given–not that they are as intuitive as they could be (as of yet anyway), but starting a new game did bring back some memories for me.

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Alan’s a pretty powerful guy with all of those starting skills. Too bad he’s a mana potion sinkhole.

Exploring town from house to house to gain quests, gossip, and training is still very essential to the game.

Gossip:  Uh, so I heard they call you "bear"...

Gossip: So, uh, I hear they call you “bear”…

The Lighthouse dungeon had a low-key navigational puzzle to it that was also reminiscent of the older games, and I admit it took me a few “re-loads” to beat the boss at the top of the tower.  “A Dangerous Cave” is possibly my favorite dungeon name so far.

Like in the older games, you get to listen to your party occasionally exclaim redundant things such as “ERRGH, I KILL YOU!”  or  “I FEEL STRONG!”  and I would not have this any other way.

Most of all, I have enjoyed stumbling upon and raiding mini dungeons in my travels.  Raiding dungeons and adventuring leads to only one thing for me: treasure.

Any time this object appears in a video game, eliminating entire groups of people or creatures in their own dwellings becomes justified.

Any time this object appears in a video game, eliminating entire groups of people or creatures in their own dwellings becomes justified.

I am still excited for the final release of Might and Magic X, but I am not sure I would recommend it to someone who has not played any of the previous games–at least not without giving the previous games a play first (Might and Magic VI is free with the Might and Magic X pre-release package on Steam). The movement and combat issues may make it a hard sell as a full blown PC game marketed at full price for people who are used to similarly themed games with more refined mechanics and gameplay freedom.  Contrarily, I feel like what I’ve played of Might and Magic X would make a solid mobile phone/tablet game; I cannot imagine it would take much to run, and its simplicity seems perfect for touchscreen devices.

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My Wedding, June 29th 2013


On June 29th, 2013, the Force was with my husband and I as we wed in civil matrimony.  Our cake toppers, pictured above, were that of Jango Fett and a twi’lek dancer from Jabba’s palace (Lyn Me in specific).  Since Mike and I first met as a result of a mutual playing of Star Wars Galaxies, and we both loved our Star Wars characters, we chose these action figures.  My character was a pale twi’lek, much like Lyn Me, and his a Mandalorian like Jango Fett.

star-wars-wedding-cake

(Bonus nerd knowledge:  Despite our rendition of the action figures’ love to signify that of our own, in true Star Wars canon Jango is both too old and too decapitated for Lyn Me.  However, she is absolutely enthralled with his son, Boba Fett.  After Boba saved her and several other children from a burning building when she was a child, Lyn Me mistook the ruthless bounty hunter for a hero and shaped much of her life around the image of Heroic Boba Fett.  She grew up to be a dancer so that she could travel the galaxy, and upon hearing that Boba Fett is sometimes at Jabba’s Palace, she took the dangerous job of being one of Jabba’s dancers on Tatooine just so she could see Boba again.  Jango Fett was dead long before she was even born!)

west-manor-set-up-for-a-small-wedding

For my wedding, I wanted my nerdy interests to be subtle accents rather than the focal point of the event.  I love the images of fully themed weddings and they look like such a blast, but  for me, I wanted the wedding to represent my husband and I in a bigger picture.  So, we kept the theme simple but elegant in the light of art deco, then surprised guests with a few details such as cutting the cake to The Cantina Song played in the Mos Eisley Cantina, and force choking members of the wedding party.

mikechelsea

If I look awkwardly dangerous with a knife, it’s because I am.

My good friend, Damion, who carried a bridesmaid bouquet and subsequently caught my bouquet, being force choked.

Before the ceremony, I spent some time doing my own makeup while drinking an adequate amount of wine.  I remember wearing my Mandalorian/Fett clan symbol shirt from Her Universe that day, just to keep myself inspired.  While I did my makeup, my cousin wrestled with my hair.

chelsea3-2

chelsea2

Mike talked me out of having the Celebration Song (From the part where the ewoks are dancing at the end of Return of the Jedi, or better known to former SWG players as “That damn ewok love song”) play as we exited after the ceremony.  Instead, we left to the song “Maps” by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.  I love this song, especially the lyrics “They don’t love you like I love you“.

Family photo after the ceremony. Kissing my husband is much easier when I am wearing 6 inch heels.

Then we had our first dance to the song “June Hymn” by The Decemberists.  I had only heard of The Decemberists before, but after actually listening to their music I must say that I have a great appreciation for it.

The wedding took place in Lynchburg, Virginia at West Manor Estate.  The photographer responsible for these amazing shots is Allegra’s Studio.  The cake was created by La Bella Torte, made to have a clean cut art deco look with little patches of galaxy themed colors.  The decorative arrangements were put together by Petal Flower Company, also in art deco fashion with elegant white flowers and feathers.  Here are a few favorites.

With my mom and dad, the two responsible for bringing balance to the force.

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The “Creatures” PC Series

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“Creatures” is an older series of games in which creatures known as norns are given to you to take care of.  By taking care of them, you will see to it that they live their lives healthily and breed the next generation of norns.  You are given many tools to do this, such as medicine for when they get sick, toys to keep them entertained, food to nourish them, and even learning computers for them to understand your commands.

While this may seem like a glorified Tamagachi game, Creatures is actually much more.  The artificial intelligence is very complex–so complex that I still have trouble understanding it–and each norn has an entire virtual health system.  They can suffer organ damage, injury, disease, mental glitches, and many other ailments that humans face in the real world.  To cure them should they contract a contagious disease that is sickening your norn family, you must pay attention to the symptoms, diagnose them, and administer the appropriate cure.

I couldn't understand why my remaining male norn would not breed, so I attempted to make him wish to by injecting him with testosterone as seen in this image.  Bad idea.  As soon as he got out of the med bay, he started slapping around the other creatures nonstop!

I couldn’t understand why my remaining male norn would not breed, so I attempted to make him wish to by injecting him with testosterone as seen in this image. Bad idea. As soon as he got out of the med bay, he started slapping around the other creatures nonstop.

Along with their lives, you are charged with the responsibility of taking care of the environments they live in.  You can alter the environments by adding more bugs, fish, or different kinds of food, or you can let it all be and see how things turn out.  I remember one time leaving my game going just to see what would happen, and when I came back to it I discovered that my norns had ventured into the Grendel Jungle, which is full of bacteria that can harm them.  Upon further observation, I realized none of my norns were dying, not even to old age, despite their sick symptoms.  Somehow, the disease they contracted and spread among one another turned them all into some sort of zombie nation!

The Creatures series makes a good gift to a young person with a love of learning and exploration.  (Creatures 3 takes place on a spaceship, by the way.  Totally awesome.)  It is fit for children to play despite its complex themes, which at face value you may never notice are there.  As a kid I very much enjoyed finding cures for my norns, ways to block the grendel monsters from invading their habitat, and building bigger machines with specific purposes out of the smaller machines.  However, just because Creatures looks like a child’s game, do not dismiss it as a game for an adult!  To this day I am still learning new ways to take care of my norns.

They are a happy group of genetically spliced norns and ettins, obsessed with eating fruit and tearing apart the machines I built to protect them.

They are a happy group of genetically spliced norns and ettins, obsessed with eating fruit and tearing apart the machines I built to protect them.

All of the existing Creatures PC games are available on gog.com at a very reasonable price of $5.99 each!  I recommend picking up Creatures 3, the last actual release.  It has the most to offer and you can send your norns to friends via the Docking Station expansion that comes with the game.  If you do enjoy Creatures, I also recommend using the Creatures Wiki to help you in your adventures.

Good luck, and may your norn nation be strong, healthy, and not nearly as obsessed with riding up and down elevators as mine is!

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Kitty Cosplay

Whether you are a cat person, a dog person, a hedgehog person, or any combination thereof, you have to admit the temptation of dressing your pet up in your fandom’s theme. Fortunately for Star Wars fans, Petco just made that a lot easier for us.  Click here to see some of the items you can dress your pet in or use for playtime.

Here is Moby, my 16 pound former kitten rescue, sporting his Yoda ears.  I think he's quite adorable!

Here is Moby, my 15 pound former kitten rescue, sporting his Yoda ears. I think he’s quite adorable!

Yesterday I went to my local Petco and purchased a new collar for one of my cats and a pair of Yoda ears to put on him.  I was rewarded with an extra pair of Yoda ears for my Star Wars purchase, a program that started on 9/05/13 at any Petco where supplies still last.  Unfortunately for my husband’s cat, Starbuck, this meant that there were now enough Yoda ears to go around.

Aaand she is so ready to turn to the dark side.

Aaand she is so ready to turn to the dark side.

I must say that it was very tempting to get the small dog costumes in both Chewbacca and Boba Fett, but I was not sure how they would fit on my cat.

For those who do not have the urge to force their pets to wear costumes for their own amusement, the Star Wars collars are a great compromise.  Here’s the one I got for Moby.

I felt the stormtrooper theme helped explain Moby's terrible aim and balance.

I felt the stormtrooper theme would help explain Moby’s terrible aim and balance.

And now for some bonus images of Moby in costume!

mobyshark6

He, too, is a fan of Shark Week.

mobyshark5

He loves Christmas... and furbies.

He loves the holidays… and furbies.

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Why I write about feminism in nerd culture

I have received a lot of feedback, commentary, and inquiries about some of the subject matter regarding feminism.  Most of it has been positive and I have enjoyed the discussions I have had with some readers.  Occasionally I get asked why I bother to write about anything related to feminism, and sometimes it becomes clear to me that my message has been misconstrued.

Since my ideas and stances on subjects I’ve written about are rarely black and white, I think some people have a hard time understanding what I mean.  It seems that balance is not always easy to relate with.

Feminism:  What it means to me, why I sometimes write about it

Feminism: the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes.  This is what feminism has always meant to me.  It is not about fighting to make the female gender surpass the male gender in power.  It is about equality.  I write about experiencing nerd culture as a woman because it is an angle I am familiar with.  I emphasize the importance of feminism in this subculture because there is a serious issue regarding a lack of equality for women participating in it.

This does not mean that I do not acknowledge the struggles boys and men face when it comes to stereotypes.  After all, the nerd culture has bred some very awful stereotypes about us as a whole, so I try to be very open minded when I express my views on things such as harassment, stalking, gender oppression, slut-shaming, victim blaming, stereotypes, gay-bashing, and image displacement.  I do not write from a perspective of a man’s on this blog because I am not one, and that is not my experience.

I have had people tell me that feminism itself is not important because the one true way to be is ‘humanist’.  While I completely agree with treating everyone equally as human beings, I cannot agree with the notion that feminism is not important when it supports the overlying idea of equality.  Being a feminist and supporting human equality is not mutually exclusive.  Human Equality is the main category, and movements such as feminism, anti-racism, and sexuality equality are its subcategories.  Striking one of these subcategories out does not help you achieve human equality, now does it?

There are some ideas that feminists express that I disagree with and I am sure there are things I write that they would disagree with, too.  I enjoy understanding others and learning their reasons for disagreement.  After all, I have always been about bringing balance to the force.

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