Clarissa's Blog

An academic's opinions on feminism, politics, literature, philosophy, teaching, academia, and a lot more.

Archive for the day “May 27, 2011”

Comment Confusion

So I just discovered that the comments I have been sending from my cell phone didn’t publish. Everybody else’s comments published except mine (I think). In a way, that’s good news because I’d started feeling kind of excluded seeing that everybody was ignoring me in discussions on my own blog.

Now the question is: if I didn’t send these comments to the blog, where did I end up sending them? I wonder if some poor person in my address book is now staring in confusion at a bunch of emails on autism and badminton.


Creating Female Characters

A fellow blogger Izgad sent me this video on how to create a believable female character for gaming. I only play Civilization V, Bejeweled, and word games on my Kindle but, from what I hear, sexism is rampant in video games and among many of the gamers. So here is a video* that tries to address that.

Once, a male writer I know told me he needed to write a chapter from the point of view of his female character.

“I have no idea how to do that!” he complained. “I don’t know how women think, feel or perceive things.”

“Try writing yourself,” I suggested. “Describe how you think, feel, etc.”

“But will my thoughts be convincing as coming from a woman?” the writer asked.

“Anything will be convincing as long as you remember that a woman is a human being and she thinks, feels and perceives like one,” I responded.

So my advice for video game makers: create a regular character, give it a female name, and you’ll have a believable female character. Forget about motherhood (as many women are mothers as men are fathers), forget about sacrificing yourself for your children (that’s just a stupid stereotype), forget about societal pressures (gender norms are imposed equally on men and women). Only then will you arrive at a believable female character.

I’m still waiting for film-makers to get a clue.

* Embedding videos in WordPress is a humongous headache.

Students As Cancer Patients

I dilsike the No Child Left Behind Act as much as the next person, but this journalist really went too far in his zeal to explain why the Act is bad:

Imagine Congress, in an effort to fight cancer, legislates the following: Each year, all oncologists must report the status of their patients. Patients in remission are successes. Patients with active cancers are not. The percentage of patients in remission determines the doctor’s success rate. Each year, an oncologist must bring into remission a higher percentage of patients than the year before. If he does, all is well and he may continue his practice. If he doesn’t, the government warns him. After three years of warnings, the state may take over his practice or place it under new management. The goal, of course, is to eventually cure every patient. No patient will be left behind. If a doctor cannot meet this goal, he will lose his practice. It doesn’t matter that the doctor has done everything he could for the patient. It doesn’t matter that the doctor has followed every medical protocol. The only thing that matters is the patients’ remission rate. . . Now, substitute “schools” for “doctors,” “satisfactory achievement scores” for “remission,” and “students” for “patients.” Congratulations. You now understand America’s No Child Left Behind Act.

The rest of the article is just senseless fear-mongering about the mean, bad and scary government.

Did I mention how glad I am that traditional journalism is dying out?

Badminton and Skirts

As I mentioned before, I really like badminton. Not to follow it on television or go to watch it, but to play it myself. I’m really not a sport-loving person, so badminton is my only chance at doing anything even marginally athletic. Playing badminton is one of the very rare activities I do wearing pants as opposed to a skirt and a blouse or a dress. I love dresses and collect them. Actually, I was in the middle of writing the previous sentence when a new dress I bought was delivered. Still, I understand that if you want to be able to play badminton at all, you need to wear something a little different.

The reason why I just wrote a paragraph filled with the most boring trivialities anyone can imagine is the following piece of news:

In an attempt to revive flagging interest in women’s badminton as the 2012 London Olympics approach, officials governing the sport have decided that its female athletes need to appear more, how to put it, womanly. To create a more “attractive presentation,” the Badminton World Federation has decreed that women must wear skirts or dresses to play at the elite level, beginning Wednesday. Many now compete in shorts or tracksuit pants. The dress code would make female players appear more feminine and appealing to fans and corporate sponsors, officials said.

I have another suggestion for the Badminton World Federation: put athletes on 6-inch stiletto heels. Those will look a lot more feminine and sexy than some boring old sneakers. Of course, the athletes will not be able to play, but who cares about a silly thing like that.

Counseling Psychologists Are Not Needed

This report on which college majors bring in the biggest salaries has been on the news a lot recently. I’m not interested in the report at all because I believe that a study providing medians based on reported incomes is completely useless. Especially today, when unemployment among graduates is extremely high. The only part of the report that I found curious is the following:

 For workers whose highest degree is a bachelor’s, median incomes ranged from $29,000 for counseling-psychology majors to $120,000 for petroleum-engineering majors. . . Counseling psychology was the only major for which bachelor’s-degree recipients had lower median earnings than high-school graduates.

I’m not surprised by that at all. Long and concerted efforts have been made to destroy psychology in this country. Now all you get in terms of psychological help is either a bunch of pills or a lot of endless conversations about nothing. A friend of mine was in so-called therapy for eleven years. Obviously, a specialist who can’t do anything for you in all that time is an absolute quack. And that therapist had a doctoral degree. I can only imagine inanities that people with a BA in “counseling psychology” dispense for a living. (Something tells me that “counseling psychologists” were consulted to create the list of helpful, friend-making activities for autistics that I blogged about yesterday). They are a lot less dangerous than therapists, of course, because at least they don’t hand out prescriptions.

In case you don’t know, courses on happiness and positive thinking are usually offered within these Counseling Psychology BAs. Here is a list of courses one of them offers: Wilderness Therapy; Creativity, Madness and Self-Expression; Intimacy, Relationships and Sexuality; Ecopsychology; Positive Psychology.

For people who decide to continue with this field of study in grad school, there are research opportunities available. Here is a list of dissertations in the field of counseling psychology of a single institution:

Body image dissatisfaction of college women

Women’s estimation of their male romantic partner’s pornography use as correlates of their psychological distress, relationship quality, and sexual satisfaction.

The newlywed experience for women: A phenomenological investigation.

Sexual objectification and substance abuse in young adult women.

There aren’t, of course, any parallel studies on men. And the we are surprised that people in the field whose goal is to sell positive thinking and to pathologize womanhood are in no demand in the workplace.

Copyright Law Against Education

This is what I found on Hispanic Studies Forum:

In the latest twist of a three-year legal case involving copyright and electronic course materials, the lawyers for two prestigious university presses and an academic publisher earlier this month proposed an injunction that, if approved by a judge, would make Georgia State University comply with strict guidelines for copying and distributing copyrighted texts. Professors and librarians, they say, cannot be counted on to follow the letter of the law — at least, not as the plaintiffs see it. The injunction would forbid Georgia State professors from making certain amounts of copyrighted material available to students without paying licensing fees to publishers. That would include poems longer than 250 words and essays longer than 2,500 words. Professors would be allowed to scan no more than 1,000 words out of a book (or 10 percent, whichever is less). If any professor ran afoul of those rules, the university could be held liable.

It’s true that I, at least, cannot be relied on to count words in the texts I offer to students because of some injunction whose logic is alien to my understanding. When faced with choosing between compromising the quality of education I can offer to my students and some outrageously stupid piece of legislation, I will probably choose in favor of my students.

Last Spring, many more students than usual enrolled in my Hispanic Civilization course. Our university lends textbooks to the students but there were not enough copies of the book I used to accommodate the high enrollment. The book is out of print and, as hard as the textbook rental services tried, they couldn’t find 35 extra copies anywhere. I was faced with a choice: kick 35 students out of my course and prevent them from learning about the Hispanic Civilization or make copies of parts of the text and place them on Blackboard. Our copy center warned me that I was exceeding the number of pages we are allowed to copy from a textbook. However, my irrepressible criminal tendencies won the day and I refused to deprive my students of a quality education.

Mind you, I was not selling the extra pages I copied to the students or to anybody else. No profit was made by anybody during the process. Neither did I copy the entire book, nor even a third of it. Just the few chapters that we needed for class discussion. For the life of me, I can’t understand why what I did is supposed to be such a horrible, dangerous thing. Another question I have is for how long we will allow the ridiculous copyright laws to persecute perfectly reasonable behaviors?

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