Fantasy Slut League, and Cherry Picking Results

Liz Crocker’s article at The Daily Beast decries Piedmont High’s Fantasy Slut League as “the newest callous form of misogyny.” The one sentence excerpted from the article and set aside in huge print reads, “The sexual braggadocio inherent in the league is more common than the media are reporting.”

All true, and all good and well. But the real news in the article comes in its last paragraph, hidden away from all but the most determined readers:

– Many students on the “fantasy slut league” list, while not necessarily approving of the name, did not mind being placed on a list of sexually desirable dates.  (See this articulate and nuanced letter by a female PHS senior on why the “moral panic” response is not constructive.) This doesn’t make things okay for those who were not okay with it, but it does mean the league was far from a unilateral imposition on a populace that uniformly resented it. In short, FSL was not tyranny; it was fashion.

– Gossip, while it can be used to destroy people via perceived social value, is hardly the exclusive purview of men. Considering the FSL a gossip aggregator (as the female student urges) rather than a command-and-control center greatly alters the paradigm in which all this sex is happening. (One might argue the real problem here is the obsession with what other people think about your own life, sexual or otherwise, but that is a topic for another post.)

– Karen Owen’s “thesis” equally treated men like disposable sex objects. It, too, got a tremendous amount of attention, both negative and positive. Some argued that if this was how she discovered and explored her own sexuality, who were we to judge her for it? By and large, the media have not given similarly balanced coverage of the boys who attempted to “gamify” human sexuality in order to better make sense of it.  If the spirit in which she made the document matters, then so too should the spirit in which the boys made their document, and recognition of that that is precisely why the PHS senior goes into such an explanation of the intended use of Fantasy Slut League. I would not be surprised if, from their perspective, it was a clumsy attempt to combine two things they love (gaming and sex.) While that does not make it a great thing, it also does not make it a twisted conspiracy to sexually enslave women.

– Modern women typically have a high degree of control over their own sexuality (at least, modern women with the status of PHS students or Duke students – the story is different for women in a place like rural India) and attempts to paint them all as the hapless victims of male lust are arguably as divorced from reality as the idea of a male-run Fantasy Sex League itself. Insisting that a woman is a victim despite her knowing otherwise is incredibly disenfranchising.

I take issue with the way the email attempts to speak for girls just like me. I know that my name has been mentioned on the FSL page. It makes me uncomfortable, but it does not make me a “victim,” as the email labels me. I am not a victim because I know what FSL truly is. It is not a rape group, as the email, perhaps inadvertently, implies; it is a gossip page where Varsity Footballers talk about what happened last weekend and “who got with who.” I do not appreciate being labeled a “victim” by an administration that is not in possession or understanding of the facts.

All this, and reporters everywhere still took it upon themselves to speak for girls just like her.

To me, the takeaway is that the situation for women continues to improve.  Fifty years ago, while gaming culture did not exist, men bragging about their sexual exploits was so common and accepted that it did not occasion comment.  Five hundred years ago, men taking sexual advantage of the women associated with defeated armies was similarly common and accepted (rape was, literally, part of the spoils of war.) Now, in 2012-2013, women are able to calmly make decisions about their sexual future and intelligently use their status to their advantage. It would be unmistakably a step backwards to say the only legitimate response they can have to boys making lists is moral outrage, and it is heartening to see that the women of PHS, if one is any indication, know better.


The Atlantic vis-a-vis Aniblogging

American liberal media bastion The Atlantic has inadvertently just done its part to make aniblogging respectable.

Behold:  The Atlantic article on Gangnam Style.

Make no mistake: for all that it is nominally about music and pop culture, this is aniblogging. It’s a dissection of an entertainment video clip from Asia and its cultural context.  It includes all sorts of cues and references for newcomers, who might not understand the cultural undercurrents in the film’s native country. It considers the work in the context of a larger body of work, which the casual reader is equally unaware of.  It even cautions the reader about the difficulty in translating nuances, and the unacceptability of the English word “hollow” for the precise emotion that the video’s creator wished to convey.

Now, The Atlantic is not a friend to anime blogging, nor to Asian cultures in general. Witness the condescension (or perhaps cultural imperialism) inherent in this article about Japan:

So far, dating Gomez hasn’t hurt Bieber’s sales. His latest album, Believe, recorded the biggest debut sales week so far in 2012. But AKB48’s newest album, 1830m, released this week, sold in its first day a career-best of more than 625,000 copies. Until Japanese pop acts built on the illusion of youthful innocence start slipping commercially, the country’s music industry won’t be in a rush to mature their stars. Hideaki Anno, the director of the famous Japanese cartoon Neon Genesis Evangelion, once told The Atlantic that Japan is “a country of children.” That’s a bit broad, but it’s hard to dispute that Japan is a country that wants its entertainment to be innocent.

Gee, how dare the Japanese do things differently from the US?  Allowing idols to date in America works just fine for them in America!  Why would the Japanese not follow suit?  Clearly, rather than it being a case of legitimate, respectable cultural differences, the Japanese as a people just aren’t grown up enough to hang with us excellent Americans.  The arrogance in that is appalling, which caused gendomike to comment:

I love the way that Hideaki Anno gets quoted at the end to twist the knife. Wrote about that article long ago too.

With an attitude like that, any help they give to the appreciation of foreign cultures in America is accidental.  That said, however, the publication of this Gangnam Style article by The Atlantic – and its wide acceptance as journalism – should cause anibloggers to sit up and take note.

Published in: on August 23, 2012 at 6:17 PM  Comments (6)  
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Lean on Reason

Geoffrey Lean has won awards as a journalist. These are not inconsiderable awards, and between them and his record as an investigative journalist, one might imagine that he would appreciate the value of evidence in driving conclusions.

This makes his weak conclusion to his article on future nuclear policy all the more disappointing.

But, equally, the huge disruption that a disaster can cause, as reactors are subsequently closed for safety checks and new ones delayed, and the anti-nuclear revolt that inevitably ensues, make it unwise to become too dependent on nuclear power. Instead of falling in and out of love with the atom, as we regularly do, we need a more sensible, watchful, relationship.

Come again? We have to be wary of nuclear power, because historically, a fraction of the public is wary of nuclear power? That can’t possibly be a valid reason. Large swathes of the population have been afraid of things in the past. They got better.  When the automobile was invented, a great many people believed that the human body would disintegrate if subjected to speeds greater than 30 miles per hour.  Physics education was, obviously, not mandatory then: we now routinely drive at over 60 miles per hour, and it is to be hoped that most adults will now recognize that it is acceleration which places stress on the body, not speed.

Irrational fear of nuclear energy is not some immutable truth of human nature.  If people are educated about the basics of nuclear physics, they will stop reacting with mass hysteria every time nuclear power is in the news, and start making reasoned decisions about how much nuclear power they want in their society.

Isn’t that the goal of democracy?

Olbermann, economics, and voting

Keith Olbermann was suspended from reporting for MSNBC, where he has a prestigious job delivering the news in front of a camera. The company had a clause stating that all donations had to be run past the bosses, so the question isn’t whether or not they had any reason to do this. The question is:

How is Olbermann giving money significantly different from stating his opinion on who’s a good candidate and who’s not?

@nozaku noted:

According to my ethics prof, only giving money is direct support

But I contend that the division between direct and indirect support is an artificial distinction. What we really should be asking is what kind of a difference something can make. Campaign contribution rules use this very logic: everyone gives dollars, and putting a cap on the number of dollars is a very easy way to limit how much of a difference each person can make.

Keith Olbermann’s word, on his program, is worth millions of dollars. This is an economic reality (consider the cost of ads in that time slot, which are not exactly the same thing, but can establish a ballpark figure.) Since he is already throwing the equivalent of at least $2.4 million behind whatever candidate he supports, what is the point in raising a fuss over another $2400, or 0.01%? It’s a small number compared to what is already going on – no matter what, he exhibits disproportionate influence over voters.

If we are truly concerned with equity we should assess the economics of coverage, and the influence a few people have over millions of voters. Sure, the networks can make up their own rules and then follow them doggedly, in an attempt to convince us that this shows their ethical backbone. But this is game-playing according to arbitrary rules they made up for themselves, plain and simple, and we shouldn’t dignify the farce.

Published in: on November 6, 2010 at 3:55 PM  Leave a Comment  
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Story about a story

Back when Warren Ellis was writing Transmetropolitan, he was fond of saying that nobody ever expects investigative journalism, because hardly anybody does investigative journalism any more.

I took that advice to heart – when an article came through about a politician affecting shock and outrage that sexuality appeared in Dragonball Z (really only to be joked at – the theme of it is, “look at all the absurd hangups we have about sex”) I thought long and hard about going down there and checking things out in person.


Yowee for Yaoi Press?

Citing the Las Vegas Sun, Bleeding Cool reported hours ago that Yaoi Press proprietor Yamila Abraham was apprehended on drug charges entirely unrelated to her publication:

According to the Las Vegas Sun, Abraham was today arrested for selling and distributing excess doses of dextromethorphan hydrobromide, an active ingredient in cough mixture, masquerading as herbal extract pills called Snurf through the website

School Days's infamous bag scene