Learn Your L, G, B’s

By Madeleine Clow

As a lesbian, I am a part of the LGBTQIA+ community, but there are micro-aggressions that I face as a lesbian woman that are different than those against each “letter” in the LGBTQIA+ community. I have lived as an out lesbian woman for the past four years, and previously identified as bisexual, as well as pansexual in my teenage years.

How can you know you are a lesbian for sure if you identified as those sexual orientations previously? How can you have identified as pansexual and bisexual in the past if you identify as lesbian now? The answer to both of these questions is that

download-1
A variation of the Lesbian flag

sexuality is fluid, in that it is a spectrum and each individual falls on the spectrum of who they are attracted to. Who you are attracted to can change because people change; you are constantly growing. However, when you do find a label to identify with and that you find pride in, it is important to express that to the world. Continue reading “Learn Your L, G, B’s”

Crossplay in the Cosplay Community

By Amy Alfredson

Image of two people wearing dark wigs and cat ears in white and light green sports uniforms. A sign for Anime Oasis in the background.
Crossplaying Cosplayers from Anime Oasis. Photo from https://www.instagram.com/jadedsnowwhitewolf/

Cosplay is one of my greatest passions and encompasses so many games, shows, books, animes, and more. I am a cosplayer and one complication I have encountered over my years of con going is that, often times, I relate to or like the design more of the male characters than the females. I tend to genderbend the male characters due to my body type, but another option exists for more daring or more comfortable cosplayers: crossplay. 

Crossplay is loosely defined as someone cosplaying as a character of a different gender, like a woman cosplaying Deku from My Hero Academia or a man cosplaying Sailor Moon. Seeing as many people do choose to crossplay, it’s about time some positivity rained down upon this unique form of expression! I created a survey about crossplay and asked questions to three different amazing cosplay communities using Facebook (Anime Oasis, Sakuracon, and Kumoricon). Of the 73 responses, 53 people explained that they have crossplayed, 6 people said they plan to or have thought about it, 4 people identify as non-binary, and the rest have not and do not currently plan to crossplay. 

Continue reading “Crossplay in the Cosplay Community”

Mr. will break your heart

Sometimes situations happen and you feel like they are so out of touch with reality, that they aren’t really happening to you. I dated the most toxic person I have ever met in my life, and I am still wondering how I let him treat me the way that he did, with no repercussions. I endured a level of power and psychological manipulation that is almost unreal to even think about.

Continue reading “Mr. will break your heart”

Women as Minorities in the Music Industry

By Katrina Arellano 

Music is something most of us can really connect with and bond over. Sharing our feelings and experiences through lyrics and sounds is an art form people have been actively taking part in for centuries, but women in the spotlight as producers are not heard of as often as male producers. There is a gender gap in the tech side of the music industry, which reflects how women make up only 5-7% of audio engineers and producers. Beyond the tech, the music industry are very low in comparison to their male counterparts. According to a study done by the researchers from USC Annenberg, women make up 21.7% of artists, 12.3% of songwriters, and only 2.1% of producers, which makes for a ratio of 47 men to 1 woman producing music. This interesting study also discovered how from 2013-2019, only 10.4% of Grammy nominees were female, while 89.6% were male. They brought s of a male dominated space through the experience of 75 females in songwriting and producing positions. 43% said their skills were discounted and 28% said they were dismissed. 39% said they were stereotyped and sexualized, which further instills this notion that women are only seen as one thing, something to look at vs someone to be listened to, let alone handle and distribute the logistics of making music.

Continue reading “Women as Minorities in the Music Industry”

Rated E For Everyone: Female Representation in Borderlands 3

Image of two women, two men, and a mutant dog firing weapons at enemies
Borderlands 3’s playable characters. Image from https://borderlands.com/en-US/picture#-

*Character Spoiler Warning*

By Amy Alfredson

Welcome to the Borderlands! Specifically, Borderlands 3, the newest installment in the Gearbox Software franchise. This series is iconic in many ways, from the comic-esque art style, to the killer introduction of the first game that blared “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked” through millions of television and computer speakers. The recent release of Borderlands 3 is a ray of representative sunshine into the male dominated vault that is gaming. Gearbox has greatly expanded their typically white, male character models to include both women and people of color. This is most interesting in regard to the Psychos, who traditionally are bald men with comical voice lines, who can now also be bald or spiky haired women with similar lines. In light of the most recent E3 and the mildly depressing news that female gamers received in it, I felt it was high time to explore the strong and varying female characters of the new Borderlands. 

This year’s E3 was a mild disappointment for us gamers who want to see more female representation, and not just in being able to pick a gender. Polygon summarized the problem, stating, “5 percent of games featured exclusively female protagonists this year whereas 22 percent featured exclusively male protagonists. This year 65 percent of games shown offer players multiple options when picking a gender.” While Borderlands 3 obviously does not factor into this year’s statistics, it would fit into the last category, in that it presents players with two female options and two male options. The imperative part of these stats is rather than making the story and dialogue the same regardless of the player’s choice (much like Fire Emblem Three Houses does for the most part), each character in this game is actually individual and allows their personalities to shine in conversations with themselves and other characters.

Images of the playable female characters Amara, the Siren, and Moze, the Gunner, with her Mech. Images from https://borderlands.com/en-US/picture#-

Most of the importance placed on representation in videogames is in regard to the playable characters. Borderlands 3 provides two female options, Amara and Moze. Like the past games, one of the female characters is always a Siren, a being with powers that help in face to face combat and usually have support skills (such as defense for a team or healing skills). Amara fits this class, but not in the same way that the other playable Sirens do, seeing as she lacks a skill tree that contains purely support skills, a feature the other Siren builds had. Moze, on the other hand, is a complete tank, or more rather a gunner. She pilots an incredible mech and uses heavy weaponry both in and out of it. While not the trend with Borderlands, most playable female characters are either hypersexualized or used purely for support, like healers or archers. In a study done by Paulina Ewa Rajkowska on female characters in many popular games, such as Resident Evil, Ace Attorney, and Bayonetta, she explains, “There is not a single character that would possess any visible flaws.” This is exceptionally true for most recent releases, noting all female characters in Fire Emblem and quite obviously Atlas’s rerelease of Catherine. Borderlands does not adhere to this standard. Amara has notably obvious scars on her body and face, and while not a flaw, she is also incredibly muscular, which sadly does not fit into the conventional standards of beauty. Moze also has some visible scars, but more importantly to subverting traditional female game characters, she is heavily armored. The obvious tradition with female characters is the hyper sexual designs, where armor rarely serves a purpose beyond fan service. The only notable character in Borderlands 3 that would fit into such a category is the femme fatale Moxxi, and even she is a strong woman who can hold her own. Borderlands shows that characters don’t have to fit conventional stereotypes to be both kickass and gorgeous while doing it.

Rajkowska also discusses how support characters are shown as “having a variety of skills and talents which on the most part are not shown or not as good as described.” The support characters of Borderlands 3 vastly oppose this argument, as the female support characters are just as strong, if not more so, than some of their male counterparts. Those that are attributed with skills and talents show such feats, such as Maya, Ava, Lorelei, and many others, who all assist the player characters in the battles that take place on their planets. Maya in particular is imperative to the representation in this category, as she was originally a playable character from Borderlands 2. That means that most fans are well aware of her skills and abilities and that not showing her to be the killer vault hunter she was in the last game would be slighting the history of the players. Ellie is also an instrumental character to the player’s success, seeing as she runs the Catch-A-Rides at every location you go to. In the same way that the player characters subvert the physical expectations placed on them, the support cast contains all shapes, sizes, and attitudes to provide players with real identities, not cardboard cutout models. 

Finally, the construction of the plot places women in both heroic and antagonistic positions. Lilith, the first Siren and a playable character from the first Borderlands, begins the game as a legendary, heroic figure, who pulls the new vault hunters together and into the journey to defeat the Calypso twins, Tyreen and Troy. While equally sharing the burden of antagonists, the character of note here is the Siren Tyreen, as her Children of the Vault cult following are literally willing to disembowel themselves or send her limbs in order to win her favor or a chance to sit next to her upon the opening of the great vault. Representing women as both heroes and villains is important to representation overall because we must understand that good and evil are human and needing more strong women in every aspect of our lives requires that we see their strength in both positive and negative lights. Overall, Borderlands 3 nailed it with their female characters, so much so that it’s really, really difficult to pick a favorite.

Boom boom I wanna have fair recruitment

Every member in a sorority must endure some sort of recruitment process in order to be chosen and accepted into the sisterhood. Just like in the movies, formal recruitment is portrayed as an angelic, easy, week-long emotional journey, only the reality of the situation is torturous. For those of you who steered away from sorority life, formal recruitment is a seven-to-ten-day long process where the potential new member must visit each house every day and slowly but surely, narrow down to just one house. Every day of recruitment requires a new outfit, a new game face, freshly polished nails, highlighted hair, it feels superficial in the moment but it is just a part of the process. The potential new members (pnms) are guided by their recruitment counselors every step of the way, reminding them of their personal values and college aspirations. These recruitment counselors go through thorough training in their spring semesters and during parts of the summer in order to be good advocates and support systems for the women going through recruitment. These pnms walk through the doors of each sorority house, vying for a sacred bid to their sisterhood. Day by day, these pnms are chosen and hand-picked from the sea of women and narrowed down until all of the spots are filled. It is an emotional journey on the outside and once the sister is in the house, recruitment on the other side is even more involved, but we won’t get into that. 

Continue reading “Boom boom I wanna have fair recruitment”

Dress Codes in the Workplace

young-scientist-writing-down-results-of-research-laboratory-scientist-working-in-lab-female-scientist-in-lab-doctor-working-in-lab-with-modern-equipment-lab-woman-analyzing-test-result_sjmkpaky_x_thumbnail-full10.png

This topic isn’t something I’ve thought about much, mostly because dress codes haven’t affected me in my current work setting, and so the issue hasn’t bothered me for a few years now. But my friend, who is studying bio-chemistry on the east coast, recently asked my opinion on something. My friend has large breasts, she works out, and overall is a pretty stellar human being who happens to be gorgeous on top of it all. One day in the lab, it was very warm, as it sometimes is in lab settings, so before putting on her lab coat and getting to work, she took off her long-sleeved shirt to reveal the tank top she was wearing underneath. She thought she was in a professional setting.

She quickly realized that she was not.

Immediately, the men in the room were staring at her. This wasn’t anything new, and given that she doesn’t usually show her figure in such a way, she assumed it would pass as she put her lab coat on and tied up her hair for work. It didn’t pass. Continue reading “Dress Codes in the Workplace”