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Men Sometimes Miss the Mark When It Comes to Sexism

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"Feminism is the idea that we can make both sexes equal by focusing solely on the issues of one of them." - The Amazing Atheist

This is not to say every single woman (or man) who identifies as a feminist is that short-sighted. There are feminists who understand that sexism happens to men just as much as women. However it's hard to ignore when women on the internet (and certain talk shows) are dismissive or even offended when it's suggested that men face sexual harassment. It's also hard to ignore when men themselves try to wave off sexual harassment whenever it's brought up, ignoring real issues that affect men as a gender.

This is usually to the tune of innocuous things that make no sense to the argument and are evidence of nothing. When most men argue about sexism or harassment, it never goes anywhere constructive, it becomes a farce: Uncle Joey was headbutted in a commercial over some yogurt; Marcus Fenix is designed to be an Adonis, just as Lara Croft is designed to be a goddess; or, and this my personal favorite, it's a Soviet plot to destroy Western culture.

John Stamos being headbutted for yogurt isn't sexism: it's frakking funny. Seeing a man who is usually portrayed as a suave lady killer being headbutted by a woman makes fun of the character he usually plays. Plus, the apparent amount of force she uses - such that it immediately knocks him down, shoe flying - is so over the top, it fails to communicate anything of the sort. This would have been a better choice as an example. If only men didn't talk about sleeping with grenades or needing beer goggles to sleep with a woman.

Character design in video games is mostly handled by males. The characters we see are women whom these men want to (read: wish they could) frak and the men they wish they were when said frakking happens. It's the Mary Sue principle and women do it just as often as men. It's not sexism nor harassment, it's only annoying that we see it all the frakking time. And even then, sex sells to both sexes. To say one side is inundated with it more than the other is an appeal to pity.

As for feminism being a Soviet plot, well, you're a frakking moron if you actually agree with that. See, the Soviet Union and the United States didn't start to hate each other until after World War II, when they started to unzip their pants to prove who's was bigger. Feminism didn't really begin in the States around the 1950's, it started well before that. The USSR didn't exist until 1922. Also, claiming feminism is a communist plot to destroy America is a pretty ass-backwards claim that goes against the other conspiracy theory that the New World Order started feminism to sow dissension among the populace. If there's one good thing about conspiracy theorists, it's that if you leave them alone for awhile, they begin to contradict each other.

Men, if you want to argue sexism, argue real talking points and avoid pulling crap out of your ass and throwing it at walls hoping something sticks. Men face discrimination in the work place; we don't get paternity leave (and women more often than not, don't get maternity leave, either) and we do get sexually harassed at work. Men face social injustice; we get considered less when it comes to custody battlesand we serve 40% more jail time than women for the same crimes. Outrage and activism against genital mutilation is practically considered an 11th Commandment, yet there is no (serious) talk of banning circumcision when a male is born.

Men can - and have been- raped by women.

There are problems with the feminist movement as of the last thirty years. Especially in the last five with the explosion of social media, where women scoff at the idea that sexism happens at all towards men. "It's only sexist when a man does it." However, as men, we don't need to make things worse with frivolous tales of perceived sexism against us. We have to argue what is real, what is happening, and understand that sexism is an attack against both men and women. All of the sexism talk that's happening this week is because women took to Twitter to air their issues about being a woman in an industry. Our response as men shouldn't be to flat out lie and make things up to illustrate that we have it as bad or as worse as them. Or to dismiss their plight as the women folk getting out of line again. And our response shouldn't be to White Knight for them, either. It should be that we are all human and no human deserves to be treated like that regardless of gender, orientation, creed, color, and place of birth.

Why I'm a FemShep

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Holy crap! It's been a loooooong time since I've written anything! Hell, I can't even remember the point I was going to make in my last blog entry that I abandoned some time ago.

Lately, my love of Mass Effect has reached a fevered pitch as Shepard's trilogy comes to a close. I've only just scratched the surface of Mass Effect 3 and I am blown away by what has already transpired. Before ME3's launch, I had been playing through the previous chapters, trying to get her ready for the final confrontation with the Reapers. She has lost, and she has loved, but it has all come down to this as I guide her like a god, fulfilling her ultimate destiny.

So are you asking, "Why does he play as FemShep?"

Oddly, even when I played ME1 for the first time, my wife and friends never asked me why I played the game as a female. In fact, that question didn't even come up until I started replaying both ME1 and 2 in earnest to get ready for ME3, well after I had already beaten them both a few times each. I have two main reasons I play as a FemShep: aesthetics and narrative.

Hearing is believing

Aesthetically, I just find Jennifer Hale to be the better voice actor. She lends Shepard a determination and emotional range that feel and sound genuine. Every word she speaks comes across as what a living, breathing Commander Shepard would sound like. Hale just owns the role. Mark Meer as Male Shepard sounds…. Wrong. Meer is an accomplished voice actor in his own right, however his tone and demeanor as Commander Shepard hides emotion and investment; he's just earning a paycheck. He's monotonous, leaving dialogue that should be weighted with either bravado or caring buried under a voice that should be used for the IVR system (interactive voice recognition) of AT&T's customer support line. And in the few instances that he does break out of his vocal slumber, the emotion – as it's delivered – sounds wholly inappropriate for the scene and what he is saying.

Here's a comparison of both from Mass Effect 1, delivering the paragon speech when the Normandy leaves the Citadel for the first time.

Mass Effect Voice Acting Male and Female Shepard

That's not to say that Meer absolutely fails as Shepard. He delivers the renegade dialogue options with such aplomb he becomes the perfect **** However, Hale is on equal footing here; her renegade speeches paint her as a real **** If I were asked to cast MaleShep right now, I'd have to go with Jensen Ackles (Smallville, Supernatural). Ackles has the range to be both paragon and renegade, Supernatural being the best example.

Dean Winchester's Speech

Get away from her, you ****!

Narratively speaking, a female Shepard just works, both in genre and design. Sci-fi has been starved for a female protagonist of such magnitude since Buffy the Vampire Slayer went off the air. Sure, we've gotten some great sci-fi women recently – Rose and Amy from Doctor Who, Starbuck and Caprica Six from Battlestar Galactica – however, there hasn't really been a sci-fi heroine on the same scale as Ripley, Sarah Connor, or Buffy. Women who defined the genre, rather than the genre defining them. This is doublely true of video games, where the most memorable leading women are Lara Croft, Aerith, Alex Vance, Zelda, and Samus Aran. And of those, only one isn't disappointing on some level. Rare is the female role model in video games. Not only does a FemShep rectify this – and hopefully blazes a trend – but the character can be counted among the best of the best in the genre.

Overall, FemShep just reads better within the narrative. In Mass effect 3, after you rescue the female krogan from the salarians, there is a conversation you can have with her on the Normandy. The dialogue draws a very distinct line between the sexes, in regards to both humans and krogan. MaleShep has to defend his gender, while FemShep agrees with the krogan female. It's the ability to empathize on a level that a man can't that strengthens this scene. Overall, the romance with Liara is the most telling. While both Male and Female Shepard can enter into a relationship with Liara, only FemShep fills the asari analog for a partner: asari are mongendered and physically appear as female. Furthermore, a pairing with Liara doesn't challenge MaleShep's perception of what gender is, nor does he have to make a necessary and fundamental change to be with the person he cares about. FemShep does. Situations like this are part and parcel of science fiction.

Additionally, a FemShep is the realization of where humanity is going. There's legislation being drawn up by the US military to allow women to fully participate in frontline combat, rather then by proxy as military police. Sci-fi is the looking glass through which we see our future, and FemShep is the perfect representation of where such legislation would lead us.