Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics

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G33k and G4m3r girls
Earlier this week I passed along a video Geek and Gamer Girls Anthem that I got from a friend. As Metaneria's guest post on the Geek Feminism blog puts it "while safe for work, the video features women very scantily clad."

It is a parody of Katy Perry's "California Gurls".

I had to watch the Gamer Girls video several times to start sorting out what I think of it... and even at that, I ended up posting a question to the Geek Feminist blog about their reactions. The reply post is G33k & G4M3R Girls: You’re doing it wrong.

My response is a lot more nuanced than that. So here goes.

The good:
Now that I've watched the California Gurls parody with it's Candyland set, I find some level of naturalness to the Geek and Gamer girl topic. I don't sling dice in Candyland, I sling them in D&D and related role-playing games.

Personally, I like the lyric parody. While gaming is hardly the totality of who I am, there have been times and phases of my life when it did take up a considerable amount of my time and energies.

I like bringing Seth Green in on the act, and the Stan Lee cameo is cool.

I like the cosplay. To me, the Milynn Sarley as Psylocke, Clare Grant as Lara Croft, Rileah Vanderbilt as The Baroness and Michele Boyd as Han Solo dance sequence was "costume" fairly representing the characters, and not "a shiny latex platter" as Metaneira puts it.

The "game night", Stan Lee, and "movie theater" scenes showed much more realistic gamer lady garb: t-shirts and pants/shorts. I thought that worked.

I also only saw the women at "game night", without Seth Green. It was more like a geeky girls night out, just having fun.

To me, the smiles on the faces, the attitude as they sang the lyrics, said "I’m a gamer, I have fun with it, and I’m proud of who I am." This was a lesson I badly needed to hear when I was growing up... that it was okay to be a girl and like Star Wars, Star Trek, Lord of the Rings, etc.

And the lyrics got another thing right, "Aragorn, Legolas, These are the boys they love the best." Not so much the Hogwarts boys, though, they're too young for me :)

And I like how much they look like they are having FUN. That's why we game in the first place.

The bad:
Geek Feminism makes a very good point about the initial lyric, "Hello friends… don’t you want to meet a nice girl?" being directed at male viewers, not women.

There are definitely male gaze tones to the video. Most notably in the scantily clad shots.

Now that I've watched the Katy Perry version, the nude in California Gurls is lying on her front, with fabric draped over her derriere. The Geek and Gamer Girls video shows the girls front-on, then uses a variety of effects to hide the rated parts. While I thought the lightsabers, nintendo controllers, comic books, etc. were quite creative... I didn't much see the point to the nudity... except for that male gaze.

The ugly:
My take from what I have read about Team Unicorn is that a group of women friends, who knew each other because they're all actresses, got together to do this video. Being all actresses, they tend to conform to Hollywood's standards of beauty, tall and slim. And being friends who wanted to do something together, I don't think they thought about what a cast of four white, conventionally pretty women suggests.

The reality is as Metaneira put it: "Geek women exist. We come in all different shapes, sizes, colors, sexual orientations and identities."

And from the comments: "It would have been a BETTER parody if they had a better variety of women. Fat women, women of color, trans-woman versus the same idealized image that IS appealing to the male-gaze. "

In summary, I'm still divided on the video. I like the lyrics, and I like that Team Unicorn had fun doing it. I hope that their next efforts might address some of these criticisms:
1) showing a better diversity of gamer women
2) showing how gaming isn't all we do
3) appealing to the WOMEN viewers rather than male

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