Tag Archives: abusive

Does the Reaction to the Stanford Rapist Signal a Cultural Shift?

By now you’ve probably heard that Stanford student Brock Allen Turner was sentenced to only 6 months in prison for raping an unconscious woman at a party. You’ve probably also heard his father shamelessly attempt to downplay Turner’s actions as “20 minutes of action”.

Hopefully, you’ve also read the letter written by the rape survivor. In it, she breaks down many of the myths around rape, myths Turner’s defence used to attack her testimony and represent Turner as some kind of victim instead. Her heartbreaking personal account has broken down the defences of almost everyone who has read it (except Turner and his father, it would seem). According to Buzzfeed, one of the main sites to release her letter, her words have “gone viral” in a way few conversations about sexual assault ever do.

And as the word has spread, almost everyone has gotten behind this brave woman. Her story has brought light to the problem of systemic injustices, like light penalties for many cases of sexual assault and disproportionate penalties based on racial or economic background.

More than anything her story has prompted a united public outrage. Every comment I have read expresses distain and anger towards Turner and sympathy for his victim. Even internet trolls who would normally find a reason to challenge the victim’s story (i.e. some members of the Men’s Rights Reddit page) admit that “outrage over this issue is legitimate” (although their comments inevitably lead back to criticizing feminism).

In some ways it’s encouraging to witness the attack on Brock Turner. It seems like we’re experiencing a massive shift in the way we talk about rape and sexual violence. As this story has unfolded we’ve seen few if any attempts to slut shame or victim blame in the media or public conversation.

As glad as I am that this conversation has come out in favour of the victim, I can’t help but wonder if the public condemnation of Turner actually signals for a yearning for justice, or if perhaps other factors are at play. I’ve been struggling with two questions in particular. Continue reading

Mad Max has a Feminist Hero for (Almost) Everyone

I know. Pretty well every woman with a computer has written about how great Mad Max: Fury Road was. I actually meant to write about it last week, but then I decided that I needed to address the news about the Duggars instead.

Not only am I late to the Mad Max conversation, but when I went to write about this post I came across the video I’ve included below, which succinctly summarizes many of the points I was hoping to make.

Even though Rowan Ellis beat me to the punch with several of her points, I loved this movie too much not to add my two cents. I also wanted to dig deeper into some of the feminist identities offered in the film and how they impacted me as a female viewer. Spoilers, obviously.

Furiosa: The Tough, Capable Woman

Furiosa is, of course, the first person anyone is going to think of when I say “strong female character”. She is a brave, intelligent, and capable character. I also love that she isn’t sexualized by the camera angles, and that we aren’t forced to view her through the male gaze.

As much as I absolutely love Furiosa, she doesn’t really bring anything new to the table. We’ve already had hardcore, confident female leaders like Sarah Connor and Ellen Ripley since the 80’s. And as much as I want to be like Furiosa, I don’t always feel myself reflected in these kind of figures. Sometimes that’s okay, sometimes all I want is to escape into the kind of fantasy where I can imagine myself kicking ass and taking names. However, it can be discouraging when movies only have one type of “strong female character”  to offer. While I absolutely love female heroes like Furiosa, I really loved having less capable heroines in Mad Max as well. Heroines who were well-rounded and brave in spite of their weaknesses and fears. Continue reading

Shame Day: Video Game Companies

eaeaI am a dude who loves video games. I’ve played so much Team Fortress 2 in the past few weeks that it’s essentially become a ritual for me, something to do while and after I eat dinner. What I don’t always love are the business practices these  companies  engage in.

The image I Photoshop’d together depicts the EA [Electronic Arts] logo because they’re a company that I’m positive some of the blame lies with when it comes to generally being horrible to its employees.

I was turned onto this flagrant abuse of humanity through a webcomic Scott Kurtz [of PvP] and Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins [of Penny Arcade] put together. The comic, titled The Trenches, follows the life of a QA [quality assurance] guy whose name escapes me at the moment. The important part is that below the comic is a feature called Tales From The Trenches, which catalogues nightmare stories from those who toil within in the industry.

Below is one of my favourites, entitled “Weekend Funtimes.” My favourite not in that I enjoy reading it, but in that it encapsulates some of the horror of working  for large corporations:

We were about two months into “crunch” when they decided to up our hours AGAIN, taking us to over 80/week. The only available day to squeeze these extra hours in? Sunday!

I arrive at the building Sunday morning, only to find it locked—no other businesses had Sunday hours. I call my supervisor, who proceeds to fuss at me about interrupting his “family” time. My team had all arrived for work by that point, which just seemed to make him angrier. He tells me he is on his way and hangs up.

Flash forward ten minutes. We’re all still freezing (it was winter and -10 windchill) when we see his car come around the corner at the end of the block. He drives up the road, rolls his window down, and THROWS the office key at me—all without ever slowing down.

He calls me twenty minutes later to make sure we had gotten in, then informed me we would have to make up the time we had “wasted” waiting on him. He ended the call telling me to never interrupt his family time again.

That’s fairly despicable, and definitely up there among the worst of them. It was posted last month, and while it’s unknown when the event actually happened there is a date we can pinpoint: November 10th, 2004. The date that “EA: The Human Story” was posted to LiveJournal by user “EA Spouse.”

The post is a thorough examination of EA’s policies, especially regarding the infamous “crunch time” that its employees have to go through as the game nears its impending launch. She writes with a genuine, heartfelt voice that stems from being the wife of an EA employee. This is definitely present in the penultimate paragraph of her piece:

If I could get EA CEO Larry Probst on the phone, there are a few things I would ask him. “What’s your salary?” would be merely a point of curiosity. The main thing I want to know is, Larry: you do realize what you’re doing to your people, right? And you do realize that they ARE people, with physical limits, emotional lives, and families, right? Voices and talents and senses of humor and all that? That when you keep our husbands and wives and children in the office for ninety hours a week, sending them home exhausted and numb and frustrated with their lives, it’s not just them you’re hurting, but everyone around them, everyone who loves them? When you make your profit calculations and your cost analyses, you know that a great measure of that cost is being paid in raw human dignity, right?

Better known by her blogging handle, little did Erin Hoffman know what sort of action her post would lead to. In part it resulted in the filing of three class action lawsuits against EA and the beginning of many changes within the industry. Her post inspired another entitled “Why Crunch Modes Doesn’t Work: Six Lessons” which garnered a fair amount of attention within the online community.

That being said, Tales From The Trenches continues on into 2013, and it’s undeniable that many are slaving away in gaming companies because they love the final product. Their devotion to video games means that they’re stuck in jobs where they’re treated poorly by anyone and everyone a rung above them on the corporate ladder. Yes, this can be said of many work environments, but few have the same number of young, eager individuals so passionate to take part in what they’ve enjoyed their entire lives.

So shame on EA, and shame on any and all video game companies that treat their employees like dirt. No one said starting a career was easy, but no one should have to toil away thanklessly for an abusive system, either.