Nov
01
2012

Videogame Bigotry and the Illusion of Freedom

How game designers turn prejudice into play

Elder Scrolls: Skyrim's 'Redguard' race--Photo Credit: Skyrim Wiki/Bethesda Softworks/Google Images

The definitive element of a videogame is the player’s agency within the game’s world. Instead of “viewers,” games have “players," and the player makes dozens of choices every minute that directly shape the experience: Will Mario sneak around the turtle monster, or will he jump on it until it dies? That sense of control over the protagonist can give the narrative of a videogame much greater impact than that of any conventional form of storytelling. But with that agency comes an illusion of freedom--which is dangerous. The player is not really “free,” since their actions are limited to the options […]

Oct
01
2012

The Year of the Woman?

Olympics coverage undercuts event advances

2012 Olympics Women's 200m Individual Medley--Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons/RS Deakin

When Chinese swimmer Ye Shiwen won gold medals in the 200- and 400-meter individual medleys in London, she knocked a second off the world record, and five seconds off her personal best. But rather than applaud and admire her accomplishments, the media threw doubt and suspicion on Shiwen’s wins, leveling evidence-free accusations of drug use (New York Times, 7/31/12). The media coverage rang with sexism and racism; how could a Chinese woman pull this off? CNN (8/1/12) was incredulous that Shiwen swam faster than a (white) man—American gold medalist Ryan Lochte. The UK’s Daily Mail explicitly questioned Shiwen’s gender (7/30/12): […]

Aug
01
2012

Gender Focus: Put Women at the Presidential Debate Podium

Two decades since last female moderator

League of Women Voters--Photo Credit: lwvia.org/Google

It’s been 20 years since a female journalist has been chosen to moderate a presidential debate. Yes, women have held the post for vice presidential debates, but that’s hardly the real deal. ABC News’ Carole Simpson was the last woman to lob questions at presidential candidates, back in 1992. What is going on? Well, I guess I get it. After all, imagine what would happen if a woman was tasked to broker a conversation between the two most important people in U.S. politics. Why, she just might ask for the candidates’ favorite pie recipes, or not know about the economic […]

Aug
01
2012

Prioritizing Politics Over Paycheck Fairness

Journalists focus on bill’s impact on parties—not women

Signing of Lilly Ledbetter Act--Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons/House Committee on Education and the Workforce Dem

When the Paycheck Fairness Act failed in the Senate on June 5, journalists reported the story. But instead of focusing on the consequences of the act’s defeat, and how this could impact women’s lives, most major news outlets treated that as secondary to the political question of why it failed—even if those reasons had nothing to do with the bill itself. The act would build on the Lilly Ledbetter Act passed in 2009, which extended women’s time limits for filing lawsuits over paycheck discrimination; the new act would include measures to make filing those lawsuits more feasible for women, by […]

Jun
08
2012

Fatima Goss Graves on wage gap, Alexis Baden-Mayer on GMO labeling

By

Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin: The Paycheck Fairness Act, aimed at making it easier to fight gender-based wage discrimination, failed to muster the votes to break Republicans' filibuster in the Senate. Sadly, the measure also failed to muster journalists to address the underlying problem, rather than dismiss it all as just more partisan politicking. It seems unfairness against women, even if it's devastating and daily, just isn’t that newsworthy. We'll hear from Fatima Goss Graves of the National Women's Law Center, about paycheck fairness. Also on CounterSpin today, many people feel like there's a right to know what's in […]

Jun
01
2012

New Media; but Familiar Lack of Diversity

Women, people of color still marginalized online

Recent years have seen much rallying around “traditional” journalism in the face of its supposedly imminent demise, including the mythologizing of pre-Internet news media as a force of social cohesion. Lamenting the “culture of observing events from ‘inside’ a community,” Washington Post columnist and associate editor David Ignatius (5/2/10) contended: When the information landscape was dominated by three networks and a few major newspapers, journalists were trained to report for everyone. Now, niche audiences want more intimacy and connection—even if that means less old-school independence and objectivity. Traditional outlets, of course, did not and do not report “for everyone,” but […]

Jun
01
2012

Being Transgender in American Media

Most journalists get pronouns right, but issues wrong

Jenna Talackova--Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons

Give the corporate media cookies for finally getting pronouns right when reporting on transgender people. That only took dozens of years. Now if we could curb the media fixation on genitalia, we might be really getting somewhere. Because when it comes to covering transgender issues, media are still asking all the wrong questions, and framing the stories in the most offensive ways. Let’s examine the media swarm around Miss Universe Canada contestant Jenna Talackova. In April, Talackova was ousted from the pageant because of her transgender identity, and then later reinstated. Sure, reporters and newscasters were practically bursting to show […]

Apr
01
2012

Women's Bodies, Men's Voices

All-male contraception debates signal rollback of reproductive rights

Photo Credit: L.A. Times

In mid-February, Congress convened an all-male panel to discuss “religious freedom” (read: birth control), and rejected a woman who attempted to testify. The next day, a gaggle of only men appeared on the MSNBC talkshow Morning Joe (2/17/12) to consider the atrocity of an all-male panel weighing women’s reproductive rights. The irony was lost on the fellas, but not on this broad, though I did consider asking four celibate men to write this column for me while I blushed demurely in the corner every time the word “contraception” was mentioned. Then I remembered it’s not 1950. Here’s what’s really got […]