It’s Boycott Barbie!

I heard something weird on the news today. The Australian Greens – who hold a balance of power in the Senate even if they can’t get out of a protest party mentality – were throwing their support behind a campaign called No Gender December, a movement run by organisation Play Unlimited. The goal of the campaign is to discourage the idea that certain toys should be off limits to children because of their gender and gender stereotypes by encouraging children to play with whatever they want to play. Basically buying them the toys they want, not the toys social constructs say they want. I quite like the campaign and agree with what it’s trying to achieve, and I personally believe that the gendered separation of toys is fucking ridiculous (boys vs. girls, boys vs girls, etc), a situation best resolved by consumers voting with their wallets. The weird part was when the Greens connected gendered play to domestic violence, with Greens Senator Larissa Waters stating that:

“Outdated stereotypes about girls and boys and men and women perpetuate gender inequality, which feeds into very serious problems such as domestic violence and the gender pay gap.”

Wait, what?

“While such serious problems seem so far removed from choosing children’s toys, it’s important that we think about this issue – especially when so many children’s toys are being bought.”

Quote sourced from article.

Alright then. No, no, this is still a “what?” moment.

I hate stuff like this. Listen I know there’s causal links between the promotion of traditional ideas of masculinity (and femininity) and domestic violence, but this instance is trying to turn correlation into causation. Most people will simply dismiss such a claim straight away. Unfortunately many of those people will then dismiss the entire campaign and movement (who at no point on their website that I saw actually make any claims that gendered play causes domestic violence), as many politicians already have.

That’s a shame, because it’s a good thing they’re trying to promote.

The news last week… that I cared about (6/7/14)

So, let’s talk about the news this past week. This is something I’m thinking about doing weekly, a sort of quick run down of the goings on in news and politics that caught my attention. Not a summary of everything, just a bit of commentary.

In Iraq and Syria, ISIL (the terrorist organisation formerly known as ISIS) has declared an Islamic Caliphate and demanded that Sunni groups including Al-Qaeda submit to their authority. The Iraqi army is claiming that they’ve started to push ISIL back (or is it now called ISIS, formerly ISIL? Or something else completely? I’m honestly not sure), something which the newly-minted Caliph and his followers are firmly denying. The rest of the world seems to be wondering when these morons will realise that simply declaring yourself an independent nation does not cause the bureaucracies, institutions, laws, tax-codes and fiscal mechanisms required to govern and maintain a country to spontaneously spring from the earth or fall from the heavens. It’d be funny if not for all the people they’ve killed, are likely to kill, and are currently having to live within the Caliphate’s unrecognised borders.

Moving to lighter news in Australia. Prime Minister Tony Abbot put his foot squarely in his mouth (again) while talking about the value of foreign investment when he described pre-British-colonised-Australia as “unsettled, or, um, scarcely settled.” This was followed immediately by the collective groans of people like me asking “Did he really just say that?”, by the hordes of left-wing stereotypes who seem to take great glee in pointing at the PM and Coalition and yelling “RACIST!” (SCHADENFREUDE!), followed by a whole lot of groans from Mr Abbot’s people also asking “Did he really just say that?” It was a stupid thing to say, one that he’ll cop some flak for until the next time Scott Morrison strings together a sentence longer than “I don’t comment on operational matters.” What really disappoints me though is that you can use Australia as an example of positive foreign investment in nation-building, British Imperial investment, without essentially declaring that the pre-European Aboriginal population doesn’t count. Mind you a big part of that argument involves casually shrugging your shoulders and saying “at least it wasn’t Spain.” I think I might go into more detail later this week.

In video games this week the conversation over whether developers, publishers and PR teams understand that women play games, and maybe would like to sometimes play as a woman too. First upcoming game Far Cry 4‘s creative director Alex Hutchinson making a point that half the game’s main antagonists and one of the main allies (as well as a good chunk of the nameless NPCs) are female. Hell, the game’s “packed to the gills with women.” For now, we’ll just call this lame as hell. Second was a Finnish Hearthstone e-sports tournament that only allowed male players, because the International e-Sports Federation has been segregating men and women in their competitions. The Finns (God bless’em) petitioned for this to be changed, and the IeSF (who did actually have their hearts in the right place, believe it or not) have changed it. And there was much rejoicing. Yay.


Anyway, I quite like this. It’s giving me a few ideas about what to write about and how to start organising the blog. Let’s do this again next week.