The Repeater: Being

The Repeater

The Repeater is a feature in which important discussions are highlighted and linked from other authors to help the information get around to as many eyes and ears as possible. Relevant to video games? Maybe. Relevant to gamers? Definitely. Let these be your food for thought. (Image Source: http://www.devcom.com/)


Colonizing the Mind

Some I was sent a link to an older article that I’d never seen with so many important words and ideas that I’m still soaking in all its meaning and importance. Great work has no expiration date. It was written by an Indian teacher who is also a writer and fiction fan. I think the article is an important read for any of us interested in the ways that cultural colonization impacts the way we see the world in America and how that colonization infects entire nations and stifles their creative development.

And just to make it absolutely clear—the Western publishing advantage was derived from the economic wealth those nations enjoyed by virtue of stripping the resources and talents of other peoples. I do not consider it an accident of fate that it is in America that the art of children’s picture books evolved (which I consider one of America’s most exquisite cultural gifts to the world). These books, printed in China on paper from Brazil—they cost (when they are imported at all) more than a full length Penguin Classic in an Indian bookstore. The books available in one fourth grade classroom at a low-income Minneapolis charter school where I have worked outnumber the entirety of books my private primary school in Delhi made available to me (And I reiterate, I am nothing but privileged in India). Remember on whose backs the resources for your public libraries were built.

It’s so very easy to forget in America that we haven’t created all of this in a vacuum; our wealth, our libraries, our streets, our farms …exist because entire cultures were plundered of their best resources, their wealth exported for our benefit. It’s easy to forget because we are surrounded by so much wealth (overflowing water fountains while there are places of the world experiencing famine and drought, etc — it’s the equivalent of swimming pools full of money) that it seems to us these things are a given. Yet if the plugs were pulled on third world factories and refineries, America would cease to have clothes, shoes, books, and games — not to mention our lights would go out and our cars would become useless. All of these things come from places other than here. But there’s more to cultural colonization according to the author:

What I resent is the implication of accessibility. That it is as easy to understand people of different ethnicities and cultures as it is to understand the diverse experiences within the identities you share with people. Yes, writing about Indian-Americans or Korean-Canadians or Sengalese-Britishers implies a certain shared national experience. But hyphenated identities are not the only manifestations of a culture, and as someone who identifies as Indian, I want to say–No. It is not that easy to understand me, or my experience, or to accurately represent it. You don’t see Native Americans writers going around claiming familiarity with Australian aboriginals on the basis of some shared philosophies, or Chinua Achebe writing about Afro-Caribbeans like an extension of his own world.READ MORE

Emphasis mine. This is one of the most important paragraphs to me because it so brilliantly captures the definition of colonization without even using the word. The last sentence says it all: Western writers write from a position of inherent privilege, able to extend their culture to parts of the world they know nothing about (“we are all human” / other cultural appropriation in the name of “shared human experience”).

Respecting Sex Work

A courageous young woman from Duke University wrote a generous, insightful and powerful essay for XO Jane about being a Freshman and a professional sex worker (she works in the porn industry). Of course, the interent is full of (largely) angry males who condemn women who aren’t saving their bodies exclusively for them and they have acted out accordingly. But this young woman has been brave and intelligent enough to speak for herself, saying poignantly that: “if people are going to talk about you, you might as well control the conversation and use it to start a dialogue, which in this case is about the abuses we inflict on sex workers.” Nail on the head.

The most striking view I was indoctrinated with was that sex is something women “have,” but that they shouldn’t “give it away” too soon -– as though there’s only so much sex in any one woman, and sex is something she does for a man that necessarily requires losing something of herself, and so she should be really careful who she “gives” it to.

The prevailing societal brainwashing dictates that sexuality and sex “reduce” women, whereas men are merely innocent actors on the receiving end. By extension, our virginity or abstinence has a bearing on who we are as people — as good people or bad people, as nice women or bad women.

Women’s ability to be moral actors is wholly dependent on their sexuality. It is, honestly, insane. – READ MORE

I used to watch more pornography than I do now. In my home, we still enjoy it but a lot less these days. Why? Because how can I become aware of the abuses in the industry and in the next morning fork over my money to “enjoy” porn? It’s a dilemma I think many people face when the ugly truths about the porn industry are revealed to us.

Yet we still enjoy porn. Sex work is work. I think there’s a lot of hypocrisy that goes into consuming porn and then condemning the sex workers for the work they do. It’s more that hypocrisy; the cognitive dissonance required to hold these competing beliefs is immense. We can’t both enjoy porn and condemn the workers. But we do this all over the country, don’t we? We love McDonald’s but damn if those workers deserve a living wage! We can’t have it both ways: either these are valuable services or the workers are worthless and deserve no consideration.

I’ll close this one on an up note. I present to you the Kesh Angels, a motorbike gang in Marrakesh. Apparently there’s a thriving motorbike culture there that women participate in (contrary to western belief!). Coolest thing I’ve seen all week.

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Scree Tags: #therepeater #sexwork #colonialism

The Repeater

The Repeater

The Repeater is a feature in which important discussions are highlighted and linked from other authors to help the information get around to as many eyes and ears as possible. Relevant to video games? Maybe. Relevant to gamers? Definitely. Let these be your food for thought. (Image Source: http://www.devcom.com/)


I have to first thank Trudy from Gradient Lair for providing the article which lead me to some of these links that make up this first issue. Gradient Lair is a fiery blog with a wealth of information on socio-political issues, especially race, gender, asexuality and intersectionality.

On Being an Ally

A wonderful article was written over at Black Girl Dangerous about how to be a better ally. I know the word Ally is very loaded these days, but it’s one of the ways we describe people who show solidarity in the realm of political activism. Anyway, Mia McKenzie gives us four ways people like me can do better.

I’ve often said that it’s not enough to acknowledge your privilege. And, in fact, that acknowledging it is often little more than a chance to pat yourself on the back for being so “aware.” What I find is that most of the time when people acknowledge their privilege, they feel really special about it, really important, really glad that something so significant just happened, and then they just go ahead and do whatever they wanted to do anyway, privilege firmly in place. The truth is that acknowledging your privilege means a whole lot of nothing much if you don’t do anything to actively push back against it.

I understand, of course, that the vast majority of people don’t even acknowledge their privilege in the first place. I’m not talking to them. I’m talking to those of us who do. If we do, then we need to understand that acknowledgement all by itself isn’t enough. No matter how cathartic it feels. – CONTINUE READING …

There’s just two sexes ….right?

Nope. And someone took the time out of their day to address a reader who thought they would educate us on the fact that there are just two: men and women, and those are based strictly on genitalia. Here’s what the antagonist stated which was responsible for the response article:

do you know anything about biology? the words ‘male’ and ‘female’ literally mean you have either a penis or a vagina respectively. this has nothing to do with the words woman or man. anyone with a vagina is female, regardless of gender. same with males.

The reply said reader received was golden and it came from Tumblr Rapeculturerealities. Aside from shutting down the bigot (benign or not) the author gave a quick and valuable education on exactly how many sexes there are. Here’s a taste:

In our society sexing is based on 5 criteria:

  • genes – XX or XY chromosomes with variations happening for XO, XXY, and XXX
  • gonads – ovaries or testes except that people with vaginas can have testes, people with penises can have ovaries, and people can be born with both ovaries and testes
  • genitalia – a penis or a vagina except that people can be born with both and men can have vaginas and women can have penises
  • secondary sex characteristics – in theory men are supposed to have large amounts of thick, coarse body hair, a low waist/hip ratio, broad shoulders, undeveloped breasts, and deep voices while women are supposed to have small amounts of fine, light colored, soft body hair, a high waist/hip ratio, petite shoulders, developed breasts, and high voices except that in real life it’s entirely possible for people to have combination of those characteristics or for men to have “feminine” secondary sex characteristics and women to have “masculine” secondary sex characteristics
  • hormone patterns – in theory men are supposed to be high testosterone and low estrogen and women are supposed to have high estrogen and low testosterone but in reality there is far far more variation within “each” sex than between “each” sex including women having “masculine” hormone patterns and men having “feminine” hormone patterns all without those people having any sort of “disease” or “disorder” or anything being wrong with them at all.  – CONTINUE READING …

There are 2 things I took away from these articles.

The first is that the best way to support something you believe in is to be part of it. Like the legs of a chair support the seat or the framework of a skyscraper allows it to stand. That’s support. If I can keep that vision in my mind before I act, I can be supportive in the ways I am needed. It’s not about individual voices being heard, but ensuring the message is carried as far and wide as possible in order to affect change. A singer can send a song far enough to reach many ears if they sing loud enough, but a choir can be heard throughout the county when their voices unite to amplify the song itself. It’s not about a single voice. It’s about the song. However, that doesn’t mean the singers are irrelevant. Afterall, there would be no song without them.

The second thing I learned is that too often I fall back on science, not as a crutch, but rather because I know that a certain audience will not hear anything else. Science is legitimacy, it signifies that you can be taken seriously. And that’s the problem. Legitimacy is something only select groups are deemed to have access to; if a white male announces a problem then its legit, but if a non-white and/or non-male announces the same problem, it’s discredited as biased and not based on scientific fact.

I think this is what happens when allies don’t examine our own motives. The biology explanation is sound and it’s brilliant. But the person to whom it was directed tried to use science to defend bigotry …and that’s exactly the lesson I pulled away. As wonderful as science is in explaining these things, and as comforting as it can be to point to concrete concepts, it cannot be the reason we act against this sort of discrimination. Because if we’re only acting on scientific ideas, we’re prone to all sorts of terrible twists of logic. Just think about all the science Hitler used in Europe. It’s true that a lot of it was psuedoscience, but a lot of it was not; it was sound science used to justify the destruction of human lives. Falling back on science to explain to someone why sexism is wrong can backfire and fail. Everyone can use science, because it ultimately does not tell us how to act toward one another. Men especially like to use science to defend their behavior, because it means we can feel less responsible and accountable for how we act.

I hope you all enjoy these two reads, if only to see a different perspective and add a new idea to your mind. If you know of some great articles you think I should read, please post them in the comments or email me.

Scree Tags: #therepeater #allies #sexism