“That’s my secret, Cap. I’m always angry.”

I’ve been invoking the iconic “I’m always angry” Hulk line from Avengers a lot lately.

Part of it is me being ironic, because of how bad Avengers was, feminism-wise, and how Joss Whedon is a shitty feminist; I have a lot of really complicated feelings about Marvel and the Marvel Cinematic Universe that currently are taking the form of several unreadable word garbage messes in my Drafts folder, but damn, that line.

I spend a lot of time angry because I live in a demonstratively shitty society that is set up to fuck over a lot of people. I’m relatively privileged; I only check a handful of the marginalization boxes, but it’s enough to have me pissed as hell, and I still want to bring attention to the stuff that isn’t in my marginalization bailiwick because I think that’s the decent thing to do.

I don’t have anyone guiding me on how to use it, so I’m figuring it out myself. A lot of people take issue with a woman speaking loudly and swearing a lot and being willing to call bullshit; tone policing is a classic misogynistic tactic, and attacking people who are angry is a pretty easy way to attempt to preserve the status quo, since it tends to be the people who are being fucked over who are interested in changing it. (I’m one of the fairly privileged ones on this issue: there are some really vicious, awful racial stereotypes regarding the anger of people of color, especially women, additionally, many women of many racial/ethnic backgrounds who are less gender conforming than me also face both invalidation of their anger and their identity is used as an attack against women who express anger, as in the case of the “feminists are all angry lesbians” trope.)

A lot of what living under patriarchy is, for me, is dealing with “I’m always angry”; it’s learning how and when to express that anger and how to deal with it being compounded by misogynists who can’t deal with how I express it. It’s dealing with being told I’m overly angry, harsh, or uncivil; it’s learning how to write productively when I’m seeing red.

It’s always a bit of a relief, for me, to see other women unapologetically displaying anger, especially feminist anger, because the constant invalidation of it that I get from society is really damaging. (Jennifer Walters/She-Hulk is actually way better about this than Bruce Banner is, though going into the details of why is another blog post.) It takes a lot of strength and energy to plow through the society-wide gaslighting that displays itself in ways that vary from the “crazy ex-girlfriend” to the “man-hating angry feminist”. I’m trying to do some of that work, display some of that, and use the energy that I’m getting from it to do something positive, or at least something that might make another pissed off woman somewhere feel less alone; a lot of my interaction online so far has been pointing at things and saying “this is bullshit, and you aren’t the only person who recognizes that it’s bullshit”.

So that’s one of the things I’m hoping to do on barrl, and on the other places you see me online: point out bullshit, laugh at it, rage at it, and avoid the abusive clichés about menstruation, hysteria and mental health. I get the reasons other women have tried to claim “bitch” as a positive thing, but that’s not something that feels right to me, personally. But “I’m always angry” comes a bit closer to expressing a part of my feminism that’s not always easy to explain and that I seem to take a lot of heat for.

 

GamerGate doesn’t want games to be art

So I realized something today that probably should’ve been obvious before, but here it is anyway: GamerGate doesn’t want games to be art. (For those of you new to this, here’s a primer on GamerGate.)

I mean, there’s a lot of other stuff going on with GamerGate: gaming is full of misogynistic pissbabies who are angry that women are interested in video games and are attempting to make their shitty clubhouse as awful as possible so we do not want to go into it, and also they hate transgender people a lot. Those are the bigger things going on.

But when you look at the stuff they’ve actually said about games journalism, they really, really don’t want any kind of subjective critique to exist, and when you look at the game developers they’ve targeted, they really, really don’t want challenging or interesting games to exist.

There are a lot of really interesting games that’ve come out, particularly in the last decade, that challenge ideas about what gaming is about, what gaming is for, and what qualifies as a game. Sometimes there are interesting little parts in big game titles that do this, where you get the moral questions in Dragon Age and other games like that, but usually it’s indies that are managing to do this, developers with a handful of supporters, companies with only a small number of employees, doing things that can afford to be experimental in ways that other games just can’t.

It’s not just that they’re failing to go after the big developers and their swag gifts to journalism and those shady areas where journalistic integrity and whether or not critique and reviews can be trusted, it’s that instead of going after journalists at all they’re mostly going after targets making interesting, challenging games that might actually have a chance at changing how people think of video games. They’re not getting the support and protection they should be getting from the big names in gaming, either– in fact, I keep seeing prominent GamerGaters recommended for me on the front page of Steam, which is a major (if not *the* major) game distribution hub.

It’s not just the “art” label that they’re rejecting– if you’ve ever seen the scorn a lot of gamers treat “casuals” with, you’re familiar with the attempts at gatekeeping that try to keep any gaming that’s actually accessible to people who don’t identify with “gamer culture”. I just think it’s interesting that the “big controversy” in gaming in 2015 is, in its attempt to throw women (especially trans women) out of the clubhouse with as violent means as they can get away with, has made its attempts to prove games are art a decade ago look a bit ridiculous– how could a community so dedicated to stifling creativity and critique be seen as a legitimate art form?

Cheryl Abbate, a philosophy graduate student who was recently targeted by a smear campaign and abuse and harassment, has written a really smart blog entry on the entire thing. There’s been plenty written on this lately, but the overwhelming focus on the GamerGate hate brigade has been taking up so much bandwidth that it feels like ages since we’ve seen that this kind of focusing of hate mobs on specific targets can come from other angles, too, and that these kinds of threats can come from the Fox News angle and on actual pieces of paper, not just from –chan and IRC based Twitter sealions.

Tumblr is great

Every few days, I see something on Tumblr that fills my heart with joy.

People get really caught up in making fun of Tumblr culture, as if a bunch of harmless 13 year olds figuring out their gender identity in ways that wouldn’t even be possible a generation ago is some kind of terrible thing. And don’t get me wrong, there are some problematic things about Tumblr as a system– it’s bad at dealing with abuse in the same way Twitter is and it allows a lot of really hateful blogs (stuff by neo-nazis, etc) to stick around– and the community has many of the flaws that social justice focused communities with an overwhelming amount of young white people have, especially with race.

But it seems like there are constantly great things coming up there, both in social justice contexts and other ones. People racebending and creating diverse fancasts (fan-made ideas of which actors would do well playing fictional characters onscreen, such as Gina Torres as Wonder Woman), high school kids talking about sexism, rape culture and dress codes, a 90,000 word Steve/Bucky alternate universe story taking place in a suburban high school and based loosely on George Eliot’s Middlemarch, warnings about the safety hazards of official 50 Shades of Grey merchandise, etc.

There are entire communities, which I won’t link to here, dedicated to, at best, making fun of “Tumblr culture” and, at worst, organizing harassment and doxxing of its users; it’s not at GamerGate levels right now but it can still be pretty bad. Additionally, there’s an attitude I’ve seen on many websites full of people who should know actually unironically use terms like “Social Justice Warrior”, a derogatory term made up by anti-Social Justice people that we managed to co-opt pretty quickly with “Social Justice Rogue”, “Social Justice Paladin” and other RPG class based jokes (there’s even a Greenlit game on Steam).

I think it’s important to recognize problematic aspects of your favorite things (doing what Tumblr would call “your fave is problematic”), but I think that the garbage people are eager to heap on Tumblr is rarely because of its problematic aspects, and tends to be one of the many ways that people are eager to shit on the hobbies of women and girls. It’s the same narrative that devalues work that’s seen as “feminine”, but applied to the hobby sphere.