Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Perfect Squares: Episode 1

Because the hate can't be contained on this blog, I've started podcasting.

I've known one of my best friends, Lizzy, since we were like 7 years old. We hated each other, then adored each other, and now I think she's just kind of indifferent. But we teamed up to start something that we're calling "The Perfect Squares".

Go listen. Now. Then come back and tell me what you hate about it!


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Mystery Solved.

I’m listening to the Muppet rendition of songs like Bohemian Rhapsody, Devil Went Down to Georgia, and Benny & the Jets. Apologies if this post is… well, a bit, odd.
At work, I drink a lot of caffeine. Those of you who follow my endless 140 character rants on Twitter (it’s just like here except smaller! Yeah, I wouldn’t follow me either), know that my preferred drink is Sugar-Free Amp  -- PepsiCo, I am currently accepting offers to be your spokesperson. Waiting by the phone. Just. Call.
Right, so I like caffeine now. I didn’t used to drink it prior to working for the video game industry, so that must tell you what living on the internet (that should totally my job description on LinkedIn by the way) will do to you. When you drink as much caffeine as I do, you become relatively well acquainted with the washroom. The loo. The privy. The toilets. The restroom.
Sometimes, in the afternoon, I’ll see that one of the stalls is sitting there with the toilet seat up. This isn’t a unisex facility. Just for the ladies. I started to see it nearly every day. Thoughts raced about what person in the office was doing it.
This whole mystery reminded me, one day, of a lecture from my college Anthropology days (why did I just make it sound like I’m reminiscing about drugs or something?). Our professor was teaching us about Practice Theory and performativity. We were discussing the works of Pierre Bourdieu and the professor introduced the concept “doxa”. For anyone who didn’t dabble in Anthropology, doxa is a term that refers to something that “goes without saying because it comes without saying” for someone. Whatever it may be is just so engrained in one’s society that he or she cannot imagine it being any other way. This was the example she used to demonstrate this phenomenon:
Professor X (meaning anonymous, not referencing Charles Francis Xaviar… although that would be the coolest! Totally saving that rant for another day) was visiting a foreign country and walked into a public restroom. She checked under the stalls to see if anyone was occupying any of them. Saw no feet, so she opened the door. Upon opening the door, she walked right in on someone who was perched on top of the toilet seat (why this person didn’t lock the door, I don’t know, so don’t ask). Professor Xaviar was so taken aback by this incident because she couldn’t even imagine using the facilities in any other way than she was used to. It was hard to wrap her mind about it. DOXA!
So one day I see the lid to the toilet seat up again and think of that story. I start wondering, “Wow! I must be encountering real life cultural differences right here at work. Not stupid cultural differences like how silly Canadian accents sound. But genuine differences and this can start a dialogue about how diverse America really is!”
Then, the inevitable happened. My bubble was burst. My detective skills failed me. If this had been LA Noire, I wouldn’t have completed the case. The game wouldn’t even have given me the option to skip the scene after three tries. Also, I probably would have killed someone with that fucking car. You drive, I have to look over the case notes.
One fateful day, I walked into the bathroom and noticed the stalls had just been cleaned. All the toilet seats were up. Obviously, I was just continually noticing the one toilet seat that no one had bothered using since someone cleaned.
Looks like I’ll never be one of those meddling kids.

EDIT: I have officially added "lives on the internet" to my LinkedIn profile. Changed "lives" to "resides"... you know, to sound professional.

Monday, October 3, 2011


I want to be perfectly clear about this: postcards ruin vacations.

No one likes them, even if you thought you did, and here's why...

Say you're planning a big vacation. You'll be gone for awhile and decide you should send a reminder to those friends and family at home who obviously weren't cool enough to get invited, but you want them to know that despite this you still like them. There you are, honorably making a list of names and addresses. You make a mental note to also find your passport.

Days later, you're in sunny ____________ (or if you have absolutely no sense of traveling when the season is good, you're in jesuschristthatbugwashugeandthatwasmylastumbrella _____________). After a tour of something touristy you thought was important to see but really was a huge waste of time, you get dumped into the gift shop. Great opportunity to shake off the disappointment and pick up some postcards. 

"I'll write a note on each of them and address them tonight at the hotel!" you say to yourself smugly. What a great friend/daughter/brother-in-law you are. WRONG. You'll definitely be too tired that night. Writing gets put off but it still looms over you, a slight damper on the remaining days of your trip. 

Maybe you are a better person than I am and you diligently sat down and spent time telling your loved ones interesting tidbits about your travels. I can tell you're feeling smug again. Now you are faced with the problem of finding stamps. 

In this hypothetical situation, you're in a foreign country and it's your first time visiting. So clearly you are unfamiliar with the postal service and have to figure out where to buy stamps, how many you need, and where the post office or post box is. All this is happening while you could be doing way more awesome things like enjoying your trip.

If you're like me, and because I don't know you I have to assume you are, then you return home with a bunch of postcards (some of them already written or half addressed) that you didn't have time to mail or were too incompetent/lazy to figure out how to mail. Maybe you can just send them from home and hope that no one notices where it was mailed from? Obviously that would make you a terrible person, and even you would judge yourself, so you don't do that.

You are now left with a stack of postcards that remind you of your secret shame every time you open that junk drawer you keep meaning to clean out.

This may be semi-autobiographical and I possibly use postcards that were meant for friends and family to decorate the walls of my office. I might be a bad friend/daughter/brother-in-law.

I hate postcards.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Girls Who Hate Girls

I hate girls hating other girls.
This blog entry has been in the works for a long time. For those of you who have followed my ramblings for a long time—long time being like 7 months—you will know that this blog entry is the promised one that started the whole blog. Some of you might be disappointed because this won’t be the post you are looking for (Giving myself +5 points for an oddly placed and unexpected Star Wars reference. Taking away -5 points for having the audacity to give myself points). Regardless, let’s dive right in.
For those of you who don't know, I started this blog because people enjoyed my borderline-lunatic rants about girls like Felicia Day, Kari Byron, Olivia Munn and other geek-media-icons. It was mainly hyperbolic and 99% for the sake of being humorous and contrary. However, I've decided that as innocent my intentions were, making fun of other girls is uncool. Except for my continued detestation of Raspberry Tart from the original Strawberry Shortcake series. She knows what she did.
Before you go and wonder, no I haven't gotten in trouble with someone important, and no, I haven't been confronted about the subject by people of varying degrees of importance. I am miraculously coming to my own conclusion and outting myself on this one. It's a very Claymation-Christmas-Special type of epiphany. Feel free to cancel the speaking engagement you booked me for your child's Bat Mitzvah or high school graduation.
I’ve been an employee at BioWare/EA for about a month now and it’s really made me realize the impact that words have on a person. For those of you who think Community Managers are supposed to be immune to superficial attacks on personal character or professional integrity, I suggest you see how well a sociopath would do this job. Actually, thinking on it, maybe he/she would be the perfect fit for my job description but then you’d have a sociopath running your community, not someone who passionately cared about it. Sad days would ensue, I assure you. I give warm fuzzies whereas the sociopath never will. Never.
And on another slightly related note, I’ve realized that meanness stemming from anonymity doesn’t just reside on the internet as it’s often accused. I’ve started to think about how easy it is carelessly slip into road rage or be rude to someone in customer service (particularly when said person is almost never the cause of one’s frustration). When will I ever see that person again? Likely never, but how is that justification? Words and gestures can hurt. Think before you act. Period. This PSA brought to you by children’s programming around the world.
 I started to think about why (using a generalization here) girls can be so vicious to other girls. There’s definitely a bigger sense of competition amongst us than there is camaraderie. Tina Fey portrays this really well in her film “Mean Girls” as well as an episode of 30 Rock “TGS Hates Women”. Fueling negative relationships and reinforcement between women is a problem that many will encounter at some point and have to choose whether or not to engage in that behavior. Writer (and Star Wars craft maven) Bonnie Burton aka @bonniegrrl has written a must-read book called Girls Against Girls: Why We Are Mean to Each Other and How We Can Change. She outlines the problem and offers real solutions about how we can end this cycle of hatred. Go read it and help change the world one lady at a time!

Now, I’m not saying outright abhorrence doesn’t have its place. Hating pandas and koi fish will still be completely appropriate in the right context. Genuine dislike of a specific person for valid reasons is also your own business and not something I need to know about.
However, I realized that I’ve expressed negative feelings towards many prominent women in the media for no good reason. Making jokes at someone's expense probably derives from jealousy that she is doing something I am not. It's petty and silly. There’s an underlying, misguided notion that every woman is somehow in competition, coveting a finite number of possible achievements and accolades. If one woman has earned recognition, we think it means the rest of us can’t. Stupid logic, I know. I blame the Xbox achievement system mainly.
Bottom line. I’m sorry to the successful geeky ladies that I have verbally bullied (albeit from afar, out of earshot, and saying things I thought were funny and harmless) in my time on this Earth. Even if it was hilarious at the time. I will try and support your efforts unless you turn out to be a bigot or something undeniably heinous.  
And finally, in my brief time working professionally in the video game industry (which may prove to be short-lived should anyone important decide to read the archives of this blog), I want to say that I’ve met Felicia Day and working with her is a pleasure. She’s done a lot of groundbreaking things for women that I should be thanking her for. I'll miss our fake rivalry... though it's not as fun when the rival has no idea the other person exists. I doubt Ms. Day will ever stumble upon these words I’m stringing together, but she does, I hope she reads this: You are genuinely swell! Also, I’m pretty sure you have magical hair.
I never said I was a wordsmith.

For now, I will focus on a new fake-nemesis. I'm looking at you Bai Yun! Tune in next time for my unwarranted attack against postcards, when I’ll tell you exactly why they are a waste of time!
P.S. Now that I've explained exactly why I am a poor role model for females everywhere, ignore that and come find me at Geek Girl Con in Seattle on Oct. 8th-9th for warm fuzzies and adoration! I get +10 if I know you by your internet username!
P.P.S. Enjoy this sentimental post because you’ll NEVER see it again. Unless I find fault with myself again. It’s unlikely, but you never know.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Koi Fish

I hate koi fish.
To me, this statement should be completely self-evident and require no explanation. However, I’ve learned that my readers sometimes aren’t motivated by the same rage at the audacity of certain animals in their sheer will to exist. Therefore, let us explore the many reasons why koi fish were put on this Earth to annoy and frighten me.
There are very few animals that you can encounter in a park or someone’s backyard that are plausibly Martians sent here to watch us. Look at those big eyes. Obviously, I mean for you to Google “koi fish” for one moment so you can visualize what I’m talking about. I’ll wait.
No, seriously, go look.
OK regardless, ALIENS. That’s what they are, I’m sure.
You’re sitting on the edge of a man-made pond, maybe pondering whether it’s finally time to pop the question to that gal you’re sweet on (wow, I’m channeling the 1940s here apparently) or taking a moment to wonder at the glory of the universe. You glance over at the water, smiling warmly at the crane fishing for its next meal and a tadpole navigating new water. The circle of life at its best.
That, my friend, is everyone’s first reaction when they see a white koi fish they are not expecting.  “Psh no,” you scoff, “I like koi fish. They’re so playful and exotic!” Clearly, you have become desensitized. Everyone is instinctively freaked out by them. They’re huge. Who do they think they are? 
Whenever I see a koi fish, after I recover from my initial shock and dismay by their presence, I feel compelled to try and catch it. I don’t have this reaction to other fish. In fact, I successfully kept many varieties of fish, sometimes for months at a time! I’m so good at keeping fish that I can’t even count how many I’ve had. My aquarium is THAT popular.
Keeping that fact in mind, none of my pet fish ever died because I reached into the tank to grab them (to be fair, one literally jumped out of its bowl and committed suicide, but that’s a tragic story I don’t wish to delve into at the moment). It’s a struggle I deal with constantly with koi fish though. I really just want to wrap my hands around their little neck bodies and shake them. “WHY DO YOU THINK YOU’RE BETTER THAN EVERYONE YOU STUPID FISH!?” I’d cry. Then I would promptly throw it against the wall. I have a strange understanding of fish anatomy and really feel like they’d just stick to the surface like Nickelodeon Gak.
Looking back at all of this, I’m actually kind of confused myself as to why I hate koi fish so much. They’re like the popular girl in school who knows she’s really pretty. Just something about them that I can’t quite describe.
But they’re stupid and next time you see one, resist the urge to grab it forcefully out of the water and slam it against the wall. I don’t think they’ll actually stick. Also despite my belief that they are not of this world, law enforcement will probably count that as animal cruelty.
The last thing I would want is for you to be locked up in the Big House.
Follow your heart.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Putting Girl Gamer and Geek Girl to Rest

Disclaimer: This is not a typical Stuff Jessica Hates post. The contemplative and philosophical nature may disturb you based on what you are used to from me. You have been warned.

Recently, I was notified that the panel I submitted for Geek Girl Con was accepted (October 8-9th in Seattle! Go buy your tickets!). Along with other interested parties within Crabcat Industries, I'll be discussing my thoughts on identity and gender, based on several years researching the topics. Here's the panel description, in case you're interested:
"No, I am not a Booth Babe": Forum Trolls IRL and Sexism in the Video Game Industry
There's a strange paradox within costuming/cosplay for women. You want to represent a strong female character, but why is she wearing that stupid outfit? How can she fight effectively in those five inch heels? What is that chainmail g-string hoping to protect? The women at Crabcat Industries share your confusion and frustration. Crabcat will be hosting an informal discussion on the problems within internet fandom that are reinforced by the entertainment industry and what we can do to combat traditional stereotypes. This dialogue will be based on personal experiences and a structural look at culture and identity, utilizing the work of feminist scholars like Judith Butler. We'll advocate for a stronger presence of capable female protagonists and argue the disparity that exists between male and female gamers (hint: it's not the color pink).
Based on the panel title, I was recently asked the following by a curious observer: "Why would you call yourselves geek girls if you're against sexism? Surely the ideal is that the term 'girl' shouldn't even come into it? Not a judgment or anything, just a question." 

Fair enough. 
I would like to point out that while I think the terms "geek girl" and "gamer girl" certainly have their place and merits, I do not consider myself to be either. Yes, I am a geek, a gamer, and a girl. Those all start with G's and largely influence one another. But like most things in the world, it's not so simple.

To give you a better understanding of my perspective on this issue, let me say that I do consider myself to be a Third-Wave Feminist (the dreaded "F" word, I know). I'm not concerned with gender alone. Things like ethnicity, social class, sexuality, and nationality all matter to me. I'm concerned with personhood. The problem, however, with leaving "girl" out of the equation entirely (for the noble means of combating sexism) is that ignoring an aspect of your own identity—shaping who you are and how you perceive the world—is flawed. That being said, Perhaps it’s valid to argue that by continuing to promote the idea of “girl gamers” and “geek girls”, instead of bridging gaps and promoting discourse, it actually further alienates female gamers from their male counterparts (who have little to no reason to empathize with the idea of a “girl gamer” phenomenon).

Most “girl gamers” are not saying their lady parts dictate how they play. Rather, it’s a statement describing a gaming philosophy: “Even though you think because I’m a girl I must like ponies and dream of my wedding, I play Halo. And even if I do like ponies and white wedding cakes, it doesn’t make me less able to get a running riot kill streak.” 

Despite the fact that 42% of video game end users are female according to the Electronic Software Association, there is little evidence that women are portrayed as powerful consumers within many marketing campaigns. I know, it’s easy to blame marketing, so let’s try to be more reasonable with that statement. Successful marketing should be based on consumer preference not purely demographic targeting. An example would be the achievement collector. Most aspects within gaming are not inherently geared toward male or female players, rather they appeal to certain personality types.  

To emphasize this again, I am not a "geek girl". However, I refuse to minimize the importance of any facet of my “self”. My personhood. I play RPGs on casual because I care more about the story than the fighting. I work hard to master the combos in Soul Caliber because I want to shove my opponent's face in the dirt—I also customize all my outfits based on how awesome they make my character look. I love Pet Society on Facebook, a "girl game", for the same reason I love Minecraft. I don't play shooters because I'd rather go to the skeet range (but I prefer archery or tomahawk throwing). Also, first-person gaming usually makes me sea sick. Someone fix that. 

I am a twenty-something. I am a female. I am a researcher. I am a gamer. I am a writer. I am an anthropologist. I'm a cosplayer and a historical reenactment enthusiast. I am a lover of material things. And perhaps the most important parts of my identity are those things I don't even think to say about myself. 

The “geek girl” phenomenon has an important place in gaming culture but in order to achieve the dialogue and balance the movement advocates, we must move toward a more holistic and multi-faceted understanding of what it means to be a gamer.
I hope that answers the question.


An aside to consider…
I think that part of the problem lies within our cultural tendency to vilify masculinity. It is a subject too little explored in academia. In fact, the particular cultures surrounding white males in developed countries are seen as privileged and the typical perpetrators of oppression. For me, this was exactly why I wrote my undergraduate thesis on a rich white man from the 1950s (this is not discounting the fact that far too much of historiography focuses on the accounts of rich white men in the past). There are nuances within masculinity that are important to understand for a richer awareness of gender performance, sexism, and identity construction. I highly recommend you read The Lost Boys of Zeta Psi by Laurie Wilkie—my mentor and research adviser, who writes to inform and to entertain! We need to be more discursive about masculinity to further the ideals of gender equality.

Thursday, June 16, 2011


And now for something completely different...

This is why I will not be ordering take-out again: A friend wanted Indian. Since my meals revolve around how much food I am going to attempt to stuff my face with and then feel guilty about later, I try to eat things that don't tempt me.I'm not going to binge on curry and naan so that was fine with me. Tiny nibbles of bread. Spoonful of curry. That would be it for me. Sounded like a plan.

We had to order a $20.00 minimum to get it delivered AND there was a delivery fee. FUCK THAT. So we decided that if there was a minimum + a delivery fee we shouldn't have to tip as well. We are poor. So my friend goes to get the food. The weird delivery guy starts yelling "No Tip?" as he goes to close the door. Friend doesn't even have any cash because he paid with his card. He's like "Sorry" and tries to close the door. Delivery guy FORCES the door open and is like "NO TIP NO TIP!" Fucking douche. Friend runs away with food.

I, of course, being hopped up with anger/indignation from having too much caffeine, call the Indian restaurant and pretend that I was the person who answered the door and that this guy intimidated and scared me and that I would have tipped him if he wasn't scary about it and if I hadn't been confused about the delivery fee. I am SUCH A LIAR. She's like "OK, I'll talk to him." And I'm like "Tell him I would have tipped him but I was confused!!!" Click.

My friend proceeds to tell me I'm an idiot because this guy knows where we live AND has my cell number. We both wonder if this was grounds for him getting fired (anyone see that ridiculous Seinfeld episode with George and the Busboy?). Delivery guys are easy to replace. Not even 30 minutes later I GET A CALL ON MY CELL FROM THE DELIVERY GUY!!!! AAAH. I answer, hear muffled noises, and then he hangs up. Crazy.

Clearly this is a sign from a higher power that I should not be eating outside food or venturing outdoors as this crazy guy could be waiting for me at any moment.

You shouldn't get take out either. He might be reading my blog and target us all.