Beat Up Chris Brown Video Game?

9 03 2009

This has been popping up all over YouTube.  I’m not going to post the video directly on here, because I personally don’t believe violent video games are the way to punish Chris Brown, but here is the link to the YouTube game.  One site apparently thought it would be cool to create a video game in which we can beat up Chris Brown.  So we can throw all kinds of stuff at him, including fish, high heels, and flaming bags of poop.  But if you miss, the couple gets back together!  And the game has received a staggering number of YouTube views already.  While on the one hand it’s nice to see that so many people are so angry at Chris Brown in the light of the charges against him, and it really does feel kind of good to throw flaming bags of poop at him, I’m not really sure how I feel about the game in general.

Violent video games always irk me, even when their creators may have been trying to make a reasonable statement.  Is fighting violence with more violence really okay?  Granted, this is fake violence, and is nothing in comparison to the horror of the abuse that Rihanna has gone through.  Rihanna has gotten little to no privacy since the abuse was made public.  Games like this, while well intentioned, sort of make domestic violence into a joke.  The couple gets back together if we don’t play the game well?!  These are people we are talking about, not toys.  Chris deserves something more concrete and legal than an animated flaming bag of poop and a smelly fish, in my opinion.  But the case has been made into a joke all over the internet, and this game may just contribute to the trivialization of the issue.

I also saw a lot of hideous YouTube videos (even “featured” videos) that make the abuse into a joke.  One person even recreated his/her own version of the incident on The Sims!  One particularly awful video was entitled “Why Chris Brown Hit Rihanna.”  The video was an attempt at humor in which a young man played both Brown and Rihanna.  In the Rihanna role, he recites annoying song lyrics to Chris Brown, implies that he is cheating on Brown, and flips his hair repeatedly.  Eventually, the Chris Brown character gets so fed up that he beats up Rihanna.  Many of the viewers of the video were highly impressed and commented that the video was “hilarious.”  I’m sorry, was I watching the same video?  It was disgusting, NOT hilarious.  The video makes a joke out of the whole issue, and perpetuates a survivor-blaming culture.  At least the video game blames Chris Brown, not Rihanna.

Another thing that is bothering me about the Chris Brown and Rihanna case is that so many people are so angry at Rihanna for reportedly getting back together with Brown.  Yes, Chris Brown WILL hit her again.  But there are a multitude of reasons for a survivor to return to an abusive relationship.  Sometimes the survivor is in love with the abuser, and buys into the abuser’s claims that it won’t happen again.  But also, sometimes the safest thing for a survivor to do is to stay in the relationship.  How can we judge Rihanna’s decisions when we do not have any idea why she made her choice (if she actually did make the reported decision to get back together with Brown)?  There is a tendency for concerned outsiders to oversimplify domestic abuse situations with statements like “Why doesn’t she/he just leave?”  But often the most dangerous time for a person in an abusive relationship is after leaving the relationship.

Although concerned Rihanna-“supporters” (like the You Tube game creator and those that are angry at her for returning to the relationship) are of course so much more tolerable than those who blatantly deny the issue or blame Rihanna, we still need to re-examine how we are thinking of the abuse.  Let’s focus on Rihanna’s safety, not on dumb video games that reinforce a culture of violence.  And please, stop blaming Rihanna!

Those poor fabulous gay people

9 03 2009

I guess Logan Crane’s sex column in today’s Tufts Daily means well, but does she give tips that many gay people wouldn’t already know about? Her tone in this column implies that a gay person doesn’t even know how to use a computer, much less find sex tips on a queer blog. And sure, queer people at Tufts are a minority, but are they so marginalized that they can’t even find people to hook up with? Tufts is small, but I didn’t know that there was such a dearth of queer-friendly house parties here. Maybe she assumes that we all just party at frats. Or maybe the LGBT community does think that information about and options for hooking up are few and far between, but who knows, because she didn’t seem to ask any queer people what they thought.

I also love that in throwing a bone to gay people at Tufts, she felt the need to use phrases like “a fabulous queer friend” and “bring out your inner Sasha Fierce.”

Flashback #3: 1950s

9 03 2009

Because I can’t think of anything intelligent to post here, and because this film is so gosh darn inspirational.

Aww, he is learning to cope with women’s many flaws!  Cute.

The shitty economy

9 03 2009

Last week the New York Times published an interactive map called “The Geography of a Recession” showing unemployment rates across the country. While the map is comprehensive but also slightly depressing, the accompanying article by David Leonhardt is not quite so up to par.

Leonhardt writes that the recession is hurting men more than women and linked to an older article about how women are surpassing men in the workforce even despite the economic downturn. That article says:

The proportion of women who are working has changed very little since the recession started. But a full 82 percent of the job losses have befallen men, who are heavily represented in distressed industries like manufacturing and construction. Women tend to be employed in areas like education and health care, which are less sensitive to economic ups and downs, and in jobs that allow more time for child care and other domestic work.

“Given how stark and concentrated the job losses are among men, and that women represented a high proportion of the labor force in the beginning of this recession, women are now bearing the burden – or the opportunity, one could say – of being breadwinners,” says Heather Boushey, a senior economist at the Center for American Progress.

Economists have predicted before that women would one day dominate the labor force as more ventured outside the home. The number of women entering the work force slowed and even dipped during the boom years earlier this decade, though, prompting a debate about whether women truly wanted to be both breadwinners and caregivers.

I have several things to say after reading this bit. First, regarding the whole debate about whether women truly want to be both breadwinners and caregivers, the issue should be less about whether women want to juggle career and family, and more about what women are able to do given the constraints placed on them.  In some families, women can be content just being stay at home moms because they have the luxury to do so and do not need to supply more income into the home. Some working moms would love to be stay at home moms but can’t afford to do so because it just isn’t financially possible. Meanwhile some women can afford to hire babysitters to watch their children for them during the day and thus be able to have a career and have children. Other times women rely on relatives (the childrens’ grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc.) This speaks to larger issues around the need to have accessible and affordable quality child care and health care. It also speaks to class privilege and how juggling career and family can be more difficult if you are economically disadvantaged.

Another thing to touch upon is that even if women are bearing the brunt of being breadwinners, women still make less than men do and the wage gap still persists, which just goes to show that women have been living in a shitty economy for quite some time now (an economy where women are systematically paid less, under employed, and lack basic benefits). The article does go on to say that although women may have more job security, it’s harder for them to support a family with their jobs. For one thing, they work fewer hours than men do and secondly, they are more likely to be in part-time jobs that not only do not pay much but also fail to offer health insurance or unemployment insurance.

Both articles also fail to mention how in times of economic crises, domestic violence/intimate violence escalates in relationships or in households where abuse already occurs. While both men and women can be victims of domestic violence women tend to be a majority of the victims. The economic downturn also makes it harder for individuals to leave abusive relationships because they may be unable to find another job, they rely on their partner’s income, they may not be able to afford to find another place to live, etc.

Leonhardt’s article that accompanies the interactive map also claims that the stock market crash has hurt wealthy and upper middle-class families more than others because the upper rungs of the echelon own more stocks than those on the lower rungs. Okay, so wealthier families do own the bulk of the stock but as Melissa writes on Shakesville:

But on what planet is a $2 million portfolio that loses half its value really more “hurtful” to its owner than a $100,000 portfolio that loses half its value? That’s literally the difference between another entire year’s survival (at least) after losing a job, or a life-altering ability to pay for healthcare twice as long after a catastrophic injury or illness.

This is absolutely true. Although wealthier families may lose more money than less wealthy families do, wealthier families also have more money to start off with and they have more savings. The portfolios of wealthier families may have been harder hit than the portfolios (or non existent portfolios) of less wealthy families but they are probably are experiencing less luxuries instead of struggling to survive and put food on the dinner table. Saying that the upper classes are harder hit by the economic downturn makes it seem like we should pity these poor rich people who might have to cut out a summer cruise when there are families who can barely make ends meet.

P.S. Here is a cool video tutorial I found that illustrates why the economy is so shitty and how it got there. It’s like an Idiot’s guide to what led to the economic downturn, which is great for people like me who still are not quite a hundred percent sure how the economic downturn came to be.

“The feminist case against abortion”?

9 03 2009

There are fliers hanging around campus promoting “The feminist case against abortion” on Tuesday night as presented by the Feminists for Life. Can you be anti-choice and feminist? I don’t think so. I think that you can personally be against abortion (for religious reasons or other reasons) but you can and should be supportive of other women’s reproductive rights and control over their own bodies, and therefore still be a feminist. You can respect someone else’s views and respect their decisions even if you strongly disagree.

Having reproductive rights and control over one’s body are so central to a woman’s autonomy and critical to her full participation in society. So even if abortion is not something you would personally do, it’s important to have that option available for women who choose to get them and to support those who do follow that route.

The rhetoric around abortion rights also gets problematic. Calling someone who opposes abortion rights “pro-life” implicates that the rest of us who do support abortion rights are anti life in general. On the flip side, being called “anti-choice” doesn’t fly too well with opponents of abortion. Unfortunately, just being in favor of or against abortion rights just isn’t catchy enough.

While I don’t think that you can be against abortion rights and feminist, I believe that you can’t just dismiss organizations like Feminists for Life or individuals who share those views because they can be important allies. Feminists for Life supported VAWA: the Violence Against Women Act. At the same time, for an organization that is supposed to be “pro-woman and pro-life” Feminists for Life has not done much to advocate for mothers to demand affordable and quality child care or more equitable access to health care.

This also raises questions around what exactly a feminist is. Of course feminists come in all shapes, sizes and colors. But do we need a standard definition of and platform for feminism? It’s hard to define feminism and it differs from person to person which is part of its beauty, that it can mean so much for and strike a chord with such a varied audience. However the word feminist has also been thrown around a lot by people who call themselves feminists when they are not (like Sarah Palin or Camille Paglia) which is disconcerting.

What are people’s thoughts?