Jay’s Rants: Changing attitudes to Feminism in music

This is something very close to my heart as a dedicated music fan, a proud owner of a vagina and as a member of the human race. As a 90s child, I grew up looking up to female icons and superstars that didn’t need to take off their clothes or twerk to get attention or to be heard.

From what I remember, 90s feminism, on the outside, seemed more militant and aggressive than what passes as feminism these days. I don’t think that it was necessarily a bad thing. “Spice” by the Spice Girls was released in 1996 when I was 6 years old. For a kid that had never heard of feminism at the time, their message of “girl power” (even though it was manufactured) was one that I found really inspiring. I was the perfect age to absorb it all!

spicegirls

Loads of other examples can be found outside of the pop genre. If you dig a little bit deeper into more niche genres, riot grrl bands such as Babes in Toyland, L7, Bikini Kill were all sources of inspiration for me and made me feel proud to be a girl. In a society where I already felt that I didn’t really belong, it made me feel alright with being different and it has made me stronger for it.

babesintoylandGrunge was a safe place for feminists and girl bands in the late 80s and early 90s because it was easy to pick up and play – just like punk rock! It didn’t matter about musical prowess (though some are really skilled players), what was important was the message – and girls were angry. Really fucking angry.

In the late 70s, second wave feminists coined the term “rape culture” to describe the way that society blamed victims of sexual assault whilst simultaneously normalising male sexual violence against women. Most women, in their lifetimes, have experienced an uncomfortable scenario were sex may not have been entirely consensual – the unlucky ones are outright abused, chewed up and spit out.

I would say that this is term is still relevant today. With the advent of disposable digital media sharing apps such as Snapchat, we are seeing teenage boys demanding nudes from their pre-pubescent girlfriends and slut-shaming on the internet. Young girls are pressured to do this because they want to be seen as grown ups – and I’m sure boys have no problem taking advantage of that.

Even my parents, being Korean and all, used to hate how I used to dress and we’d get into huge arguments about the length of my skirts. Now that I’ve grown up and experienced the world somewhat, I started thinking about how wrong that was! Why is it that the mainstream media (and therefore most people) point their fingers at the victims and accuse them of dressing provocatively? Women should not be afraid of walking down the road regardless of how they are dressed.

I believe this is because of the sense of entitlement that people seem to have towards women’s bodies. They see half naked bodies and boobs all the time. Porn, music videos and this bullshit post-feminism that we are seeing today make it even more acceptable for women to be seen gyrating on TV. Young girls are being brought up around this idea that they are only valued if they are on their knees and naked.

Furthermore, it doesn’t matter at all how you are dressed in my experience. I’ve had cat calls and abuse from white van men with a full face of make up / without make up / dressed up / dressed down…etc. It is not what women are wearing, it is purely the fact that you are a girl – nothing more, nothing less.

Many “non-feminists” would argue, that in the UK, that women in society have reached a pleasant equilibrium. I would say the complete opposite. Women are now expected to work full or part-time whilst still being largely responsible for child-rearing and running the household. Even my partner, though we are more equal than most couples, is guilty of letting me run around after him picking up his socks. Why is it that no man has EVER done that for me? Anyway, I digress….

Fast forward to today and we have Miley Cyrus and Nicki Minaj as the poster children for post-feminism. Clearly, their management has a testosterone fuelled agenda. It seems to me (though it could just be that I have a chip on my shoulder), that the music industry is trying with all its might to undo all the progress that has been made. If you think that post-feminism is a movement started by women, then you are very naive indeed.

feminism

“What’s the big deal? Sex sells!” – is the industry stand point on this matter. However, I would argue that it is precisely BECAUSE music has the power to change the attitudes of each successive generation, that the major record companies, as a whole, are not being responsible enough. With great power, comes great responsibility (HAHAHAHAHA – *cough* sorry, we are talking about the music industry here. The most responsible of all industries lol)

I can’t begrudge an independent artist trying to carve a career out for themselves by waggling their bottoms in front of people but there are millions swilling around in the record label coffers (no matter how much they keep moaning that record sales are low – they are STILL making loads of money). There is no excuse for them and they are investing it into acts and artists that are, frankly, an embarrassment.

In conclusion, I will only call myself a post-feminist in a post-patriarchal society – our work here is not yet finished. Put your arse away, love.

Life lessons learned through video games: Kickstarter and funding game projects

Peter Molyneux Interview: “I haven’t got a reputation in this industry any more” – Original interview

Peter Molyneux has had a really rough week. After the infamous BRUTAL interview with popular video game review site, Rock Paper Shotgun I’m sure that the company, 22cans are still reeling from the shock.

I’ve never spent any money on Mr. Molyneux’s products so I really don’t have a strong opinion on whether he’s a good game designer or not. I’m not personally invested, as it were. I have played Black & White and all of the Fable games with my fiance though. I thought they were, ok. We decided not to pledge money towards “Godus” though, and we largely ignored all the “Curiosity” hype.

I won’t really go into the details of the interview because it was so horrific. I have never seen such unprofessional conduct from both interviewer and interviewee on a mainstream news platform before in my life. As somebody who has worked in marketing and PR, this is my idea of a nightmare situation for a client. How on earth can one spring back from that?

A lot of people on the comments section are arguing whether the questioning was fair or whether Molyneux deserved the treatment that he got. Your guess is as good as mine. It seems to me that a lot of the bad press that has been generated around the topic of 22cans, Lionhead studios and Peter himself was largely due to bad business practice, lack of respect for customers and their money.

However, to open any conversation with: “are you a pathological liar?” is definitely rude and emotionally charged from the interviewer’s stand point. Personally, I think a calm and collected approach would still have yielded interesting results. It was all very unprofessional but, to be brutally honest, any sane person would have just slammed the phone down or refused to talk?

In my honest opinion, being able to earn a living from creating video games is a bloody privilege. Having worked for just above minimum wage in retail jobs pretty much all of my working life, I have a real problem with people that don’t think it is a big deal messing around with your money. I am juggling work, uni and making video games in order to support myself. I do not sympathise with people who don’t respect the value of money, no matter how small the amount. I would be angry if someone was messing around with my tenner let alone having all my hopes dashed.

Literally, we have no money. We have minus money and we are still managing to get a game together.

I have a problem with Kickstarter because it isn’t a pre-order platform, it’s a donation platform. I think the reason why there is so much controversy surrounding the service is that the returns and refunds policy is so shaky. You may or may not see your money back if the project fails or runs into difficulty.

The thing that people don’t understand about this kind of crowd-funding is that you are giving permission to these companies to spend your money. I mean, the whole point is, they need your money to create the products that you have paid for. It is not the same as pre-ordering something that is currently in development with a firm release date. It’s like you and I are all angel investors to these companies, except that we’re not. These companies know we’re poor as shit and can’t afford to risk losing money all over the place like REAL billionaire angel investors can. Therefore, these customers should be treated with more care and most importantly, you NEED to deliver your products. It’s career suicide not to.

The way I see it, it is inherently risky because there are examples of projects with tiers up to thousands of pounds which may not see their promised pledge rewards met. I think the fury in that case would be justified. But why not just wait until the game is out, watch some reviews and then decide whether to buy into the product, like you do with your toaster, mobile phone and everything else you choose to purchase?

I think the reward system is a little bit weak anyway. If people want to buy stuff, they’ll ask you for the stuff and there will be a provable demand. This is what you learn when you work in retail for nearly a decade. I don’t think it’s fair to promise customers a limited edition art book, for example, for a game that hasn’t secured funding or isn’t currently in production. These things cost money to design, manufacture and post. A book is a whole other project, entirely. People seriously underestimate the time it takes to get things done. Worst of all, I’m sure that rewards can cripple a company financially and are probably the most annoying, stupid job to do right at the very end, when you are stressing about the release. Seems like ALOT of extra hassle to me – for no real gain. I’m sure people would just like the game that they paid for, at the very least.

Double Fine is a good example of a show case Kickstarter project but even they ran into trouble. They got away with it, but only just. I used to admire Tim Schafer a lot, actually. His original point and click adventures are among my favourite games of all time. I don’t think that his strength is project management either, though. He’s just a more likeable person and he has hired good people around him that aren’t afraid to call him out on things, on camera if they have to. The communication itself was just handled a lot better, thanks to the wonderful indie documentary film team 2 Player productions that produced the video blog updates for Double Fine. It certainly helped the credibility of the company when things started to look a bit sour.

Having always worked from a DIY perspective from everything I do: start-up companies, independent family run businesses, bedroom music producing…etc, I think I have some experience with you know, risking my own money and spending lots of my own free time to projects. I have spent a fair bit of time playing gigs on the London toilet circuit with various bands. In my opinion, to pursue a creative career, you need to earn your stripes and do it the hard way by keeping your shit tight and learning to become an ethical business person by default.

I can see why many creative projects fail but I think that this is often down to the strength of the leadership, how many liabilities the company has and passion for the project. No WAY should Kickstarter be looked at as a short cut to doing the real hard work of running a business.

In conclusion, I think Kickstarter gives over confident individuals or businesses an easy way to convince people to hand over their money. It should be more of a platform for more established individuals or small businesses that have a proven track record, such as the incredible Amanda Palmer. This isn’t to say that every Kickstart projects are money-grubbing scam artists – a lot of cool and innovative projects would not be possible without the initial funding. All pledgers should be aware, though, that they are contributing to completely new ideas. While it is exciting to be part of the development process, be aware that the results may be disappointing.

Kaley Cuoco on why she’s NOT a feminist in interview

Kaley Cuoco on why she’s NOT a feminist in interview with Redbook magazine | Daily Mail Online.

There are a lot of reasons why I am disturbed and a little disappointed about this article. First of all, I’m pissed off that everyone is talking about it in the first place.

As a feminist, I am pro choice and an equalist. I believe that any human, male or female or LGBT individuals, are as valuable as each other and I do accept that there are physiological differences that make individuals predisposed to pursuing specific roles in society and indeed, in the home. I would argue though, this has more to do with personality and upbringing than it has to do with whatever pair of chromosomes you happen to have.

I can only draw from personal experience but I’m sure there are plenty of articles that would reinforce the points that I’m trying to make.

The article that I have provided links to, promotes a post-feminist message of: “It’s ok, to want to stay at home and provide for your man”. It is exactly the attitude of so many young women and teenagers that have clearly benefited from the work of feminists that have brought about legal and social changes that allow women to have jobs and vote but the individuals themselves have no drive to push forward anymore and are now comfortable.

Some women, like Kaley Cuoco, are incredibly fortunate. She has the option to stay at home and look after their husband. She also has the option to go out and pursue an income and seeing as she’s currently earning millions from appearing on the Big Bang Theory, she doesn’t need to really do anything if she doesn’t want to.

I would argue, if an individual is not a famous TV star, and chooses to stay at home and look after their partner without earning their own wages, they choose to hand over the control to the other party. In any relationship, if the power balance is too far in favour of one person, the other can easily be taken advantage of. In other words, you are effectively trapped.

On the flip side, I feel sorry for men. Not only is there social pressure for them to provide for their family, it is more socially acceptable for women to completely take advantage of this. Except that men don’t have the option of being the home maker since there is inadequate paternity care support. If a woman chooses to completely ruin a life, there is no social stigma even if she took everything.

This is decidedly unfair but some women are going back to an almost victorian way of thinking and rejecting the freedom that they have been offered because it’s too frightening. It’s easier to give-up and hand over the responsibility to the man who will provide everything for them.

But open your eyes! Men are feeling more and more inadequate as women gain strength and with the current living cost and property crisis, only the very rich and fortunate can afford to not work and stay at home with their families. Men are no longer earning enough by themselves to support a family. It isn’t fair, if your man isn’t earning huge amounts of money, if you demand that he looks after you while you sit at home painting your nails. There are plenty of women out there that have kids that work part-time or full-time alongside their partner in order to support their household.

In conclusion, this sort of “post-feminism” is bull shit and shouldn’t really be making headlines. Celebrity lifestyles are NOT something that ordinary people should try and emulate because it is simply not realistic. Kaley Cuoco should have known that the red top newspapers will just grab the “I’m not a feminist” slogan and run with it.

At this moment in time, women in the western world are “more equal” than men. We choose when to have babies, we choose our own husbands, we choose our own path in life…etc. It’s a shame that so many young people would rather sacrifice their own opportunities just to coast through life by leeching off someone else and not using their own brains to get ahead in life.

#GamerGate, Feminism and the culture war

It’s a really odd thought to think that there is a culture war going on right now. Video game culture is under scrutiny this time because of a hashtag: #GamerGate. In a nutshell, many people have accused Gamergate of being a hate group because people using this hashtag have been targeting female journalists and game industry employees to send abusive messages and death threats.

What started off as some vicious rumour spreading about the validity of a game review, the entire thing seems to have grown way out of hand. After reading some awful tweets targeting @FemFreq on twitter, it is clear that people are lashing out at women “getting involved” in a traditionally, male dominated industry.

I understand that games are about fantasy and suspending reality and that sometimes that there might be a historical context for sexism that is relevant to the content. However, I cannot agree with this glorification that seems to be all too common in entertainment products these days. It is not sending the right message to young people – of both genders.

Girls can make games too you know! This teen duo from the US show the boys how it’s done…

Two Teenage Girls Have Invented the Most Powerful Video Game of the Year

Two Teenage Girls Have Invented the Most Powerful Video Game of the Year

I’m involved with making games myself. I’m not afraid to say that I love games and that I’m also a feminist. What these people don’t seem to realise is that there is absolutely nothing that we can do about the past, we can only change the future. Games like Grand Theft Auto are notoriously sexist but it is clear that these games were targeted at a male target market WITHOUT consideration of the female audience and it still sold millions.

What the game industry needs to take away from this controversy is to put the same money, energy and time into games that are all inclusive rather than exclusive. At the very least, consider that, in reality, the mainstream target audience is no longer “predominantly male”.

I mean c’mon! It’s 2014! Video games don’t just belong to boys – we’ve been playing just as long as you have!

10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Woman: Jay’s thoughts

You guys should watch this video that went viral since it was posted on Youtube this Tuesday. Not only does it show how often cat-calling in the street happens, it shows how intimidating some people can be without realising that they are doing it. In the comments below the video, it clearly demonstrates that some men still hold these gender biases when they say can stuff like this:

“So much bull… in the video, it feels so unreal and set up, both for the editing and the way it was prepared… besides, as many has pointed out, most are just innocent comments. So, she and others are overly sensitive, that’s their right, but… when is it ok to let overly sensitive people control NORMAL behavior? I think harassment has become such a easily thrown in word and most people feel scared to stand up to it that we are letting this kind of things control us.”

I left the spelling and grammar mistakes in there on purpose so you can see what an absolute hippo this guy is. Don’t worry, there’s more. Just keep scrolling.

Women do not consider this “normal” or friendly behaviour from men. I guarantee you, speaking as a girl, most women encounter stuff like this every day. Men don’t. Which is why I think there is this lack of understanding because it is impossible for a man to experience this constant stream of unwanted attention.

Not only that, men are unaware that they can be quite frightening at times. If I had a guy walking silently next to me, I would feel really scared. So many thing run through your mind when stuff like that happens. Especially, if they start to follow you after you ignore them – because there is the REAL possibility of being attacked and overpowered by someone who has just expressed an interest in harassing you.

To call women “overly sensitive” when we TRULY do not want this kind of attention is unfair. To be honest, the comments in the video aren’t nearly half as bad as what I can personally experience when I’m out and about. Mix that all up with good old fashioned racial stereotyping and slurs, you can sometimes get really nasty things said to you.

This is basically why I’m so glad that I barely use public transport anymore. This kind of harassment NEEDS to stop. I’m glad at least that this video has gone viral – at least it’s got people talking.

PS. To be completely honest though, the amount of terrible things people are saying in the comments section really does concern me. Also someone from the “red pill” club has got hold of it and is going off on a misogynistic rant. I despair for humanity.

First day as a Master’s student

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Today marks my first day as a masters student. After arsing around trying to find something to do for years, I believe that this is finally something that I’m sure about.

I’m feeling really optimistic about this opportunity because, believe it or not, I’m actually looking forward to getting stressed out over my dissertation project for the year.

I think a lot of people feel lost at some point in their life wondering whether they could have done something better but I don’t think I’ll regret post graduate school. I mean, up until about 3 years ago, I was hell bent on being a musician. Now, I get to write about whatever I want – I still have all my school holidays to do whatever I want.

It’s frightening because over the years, I’ve changed my mind so often as to what I want to be doing with my life. As you reach your mid twenties that’s what everyone seems to be concerned about.  I think the question that people should ask themselves is: “what do I not want to be?”, not try and reach for unrealistic goals. You can “want” to be a rock star all you want, it’s probably not going to happen. You can avoid doing things you don’t want to do and pursue a career that fits in with the life you want to live.

I finally feel like I’m ready to leave the corporate salary desk job behind and give my academic career a serious go. Wish me luck.

Jay’s Ramblings – Why I’m proud of being an HSP personality type

I first became interested in personality types when studying for my undergraduate degree. It has helped me understand myself and the actions of others around me and since then, I have found myself analysing my friends and family and making mental notes of the personality types that they might be.

I found recently that this kind of behaviour is typical for HSPs (Highly sensitive people). This link I found is pretty much the only self test that I’ve been able to find that was on a reputable website. Of course, no personality survey should be taken at face value and it doesn’t diagnose or solve anything. I was just curious! But of course, I checked 25 out of 27. Here it is if you want to check it out: http://www.hsperson.com/test/highly-sensitive-test/

To tell the truth, the reason I stumbled across this website was because I was frustrated that I seemed to be reacting completely differently to other people when watching violent, tense or scary TV shows or movies. I tend to avoid them if I can but I don’t think it’s normal that I grit my teeth when watching Breaking Bad or Game of Thrones. I know, I know, those shows aren’t THAT violent but think of how I would react to a movie like Saw. I’ve seen Saw. I don’t think I could tell you anything about the plot or characters, instead I have images of Jigsaw burned permanently into my mind. Of course I’ve lied to my friends so that they don’t think I’m a pussy but I am so so tired of keeping up this facade and I don’t know why anyone would enjoy watching someone cutting off their own leg. I mean, there are plenty of other things that I would rather watch.

I’ve always felt that my brain was wired differently to everyone else’s and some things genuinely still baffle me about other people’s behaviour. When I was a teenager, I used to regularly be moved to tears by songs. As an adult, I’m able to keep a lid on the tears but instead of crying, I will sit there and tear apart the song analysing every chord change, every instrument in the sound scape and rewind to the solo so I can listen to it over and over. I love to get lost in the detail in anything and everything that I do.

According to the website, this personality trait affects around 15-20% of the population which is too much to be a disorder but a small enough number to not be well understood by the majority. In fact, up until recently, HSP has been mislabelled as introversion, neuroticism or shyness but it has been agreed that HSPs can be both introverted and extroverted. Specifically, HSPs are more aware than others of subtleties, easily overwhelmed, sensitive to other’s moods, deeply moved by the arts or music.

As an artist / creative person, I’m thankful that I have a personality that is more sensitive to emotions and I’m glad that I am sensitive to other people’s moods. I look at other people who just don’t seem to have the ability to read the room or seem to just not care about other people’s feelings at all.

On the flip side, being an HSP personality type also means that I get upset easily and take things really personally. So whether I feel that I’m being undermined or even if I’m just having a really unlucky day, I’ll feel that the world is just 100% against me for that moment in time and I almost won’t be able to function properly unless I have a sandwich or a smoke.

The thing is with all these different personality types and quizzes is that there are all completely subjective because you could, in theory, get a different result each time you answer the questions. However, everyone knows in their heart of hearts that they fit in a certain group (ie. an extrovert couldn’t possibly think they were an introvert) – but it is also a well known fact that some people find it difficult to be honest with themselves so an accurate result in this case would be impossible.

The good thing about being aware of your personality type is that you become to understand why you think and act a certain way and once you have addressed it, you can recognise and work on areas of your personality that you aren’t proud of. Additionally, being able to recognise certain traits in others will help you understand and empathise more with them. In business, in love and in life – being able to understand the way people work will only be an advantage to you.

I’ve provided links to a few well known personality tests  and websites below, if you are interested.

Leave a comment and tell me what your type is!

Official Myers Briggs website (FYI only, you have to pay!) – http://www.myersbriggs.org/

Free test based on Isabel Briggs Myers and Carl Jung – http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/jtypes2.asp

HSP personality type test – http://www.hsperson.com/