That much is true.
I’m currently playing the first video game I’ve purchased in years: Winning Eleven 8…a Japanese Soccer Sim….and before that, last January I guess, I finally completed Final Fantasy X, a Japanese Role Playing Adventure game, after…uh…about two and one half years, and 140 hours of game time. So I’m old and slow and nerdy. Kill me.
What does this have to do with anything?
Well, I was going to a family get together a few years back and had purchased a video game magazine in the airport….
and when I got home it was just hanging out randomly by my bedside one morning…
and one of my sisters passed by, saw it, and gave me the eyebrow. You know, the EYEBROW.
You see, there was this HUGE-boobed cartoon woman staring out of the magazine. Some kind of “Red Sonja”-with-a-sword gal….who…uh…was actually a playable character in a game that…ergh…I’ve also completed: Baldur’s Gate Dark Alliance.
Background: I grew up in what I guess folks would now call a feminist household. Nothing fancy. My mom and my dad just believed in the, gosh, radical notion, that women should have equal rights…that my sisters and I should see each other as equally capable of doing or being whatever the hell we wanted to do or be. We were probably on some level…a low level…influenced by radical academic feminists…and on a higher level Dr. Spock and Dr. Suess and Sesame Street and, more importantly, my grandmothers and aunts who had fought like Hell through the first half of the century to define womanhood as something more than cooking, doing laundry, raising children and saying “yes, sir.”
Again, so kill me.
So, I guess part of my family’s feminist shared “ethos” comes down to what you might call….I guess…”white, middle-class, bourgeois” notions of what acceptable depictions of women AND men are…well, that mixed with my parents more impoverished and religious (read “old fashioned decency”) background and the media environment we kids grew up in.
And let’s just say, simply put, that Baldur’s Gate is a juvenile, raging-id, rejection of that “surface standard”. The women in the game have huge boobs. Their boobs jiggle. They kill things. Everyone kills things. But regardless…the whole thing was both, uh, offensive on some level and moreover, juvenile…in the extreme…and uh….male-oriented…so sadly and pathetically male-oriented that I cringe at it for what it says about some large realm of my subconscious.
(But not that much, friends…come on, I’m not insane…a cringe is a cringe. I mean, I have not burned my copy of Baldur’s Gate, I know who I am, it’s a basically fun game…and, whatever….the whole thing IS ludicrous on so many levels.)
So…when my sister gave me the EYEBROW all these thoughts went coursing through my head. But the core one would be this:
We’re on a new adventure in my family….I’ve got two nieces and a nephew…and I have some responsibility to enunciate what kind of world I would like to make for them, all of them…in conjunction with my sisters, their husbands and my parents…and building on the legacy of those who’ve come before. I for one, hope that feminism’s promise has something to do with that world…and I hope it would influence how I present to them as their uncle…all of them…as an example of a man and a person and a friend.
Because for me feminism isn’t about women…or children…it’s about all of us. It’s about what roles we embrace..and what assumptions influence every last thing we do…and it’s about, on some level…despite all the BS spewed by whiny insulting sophistic airheads the last few days… EXACTLY why we are at war in Iraq right now.
Why does Cowboy George Bush make folks feel safe? Why was war the answer? Why did they make fun of John Edwards by calling him the “Breck Girl?” Why does GWB strut and talk like he does? And why do his daughters giggle and dress up totally “debbed” out?
So no. The huge-boobed fighting woman is not the biggest barrier our kids face…to put it lightly. There are bigger issues. Thousands of them. But they are all interwoven in basic issues that feminism addresses because feminism, at the end of the day, is NOT just about women, or some small little topic to be relagated to a new blog…it’s about changing the world by empowering all of us to live in a new way, free from the BS of old patterns and roles, even as those patterns and that history surrounds us on all sides.
At the end of the day, feminism is about how the assumptions about gender we take for granted shape the world we live in. It’s about how the blinders that shape how we see things…man/woman…war/peace…are actually prison bars that lock us in. And the way we find this out is often to get called on it, to get criticized. Especially us men. I mean, sometimes the only way us guys see how BULLSHIT out mindset is…well…is for someone to give us the EYEBROW and point it out to us…to say, “hey, that’s not ok.”
So, what happened, you know…after my sister’s EYEBROW.?
Well, in different cultures and contexts I know that large breasted fantasy warriors like Sheena / Red Sonja might be cool…might be funny and empowering even…but not in my parent’s house that day…
and, more importantly, and this IS the point I’m getting at…it says more about the respect I have for my sister as a woman, as a parent and as my friend and ally….that when she gave me the EYEBROW…
I put the goddam magazine away.