April 27, 2010

Grrrl Zines!

Obviously I'm really into feminist and riot grrrl blogs, there are a handful that I read pretty much every morning with my cup of coffee (most of which you can find linked over on the left side of this page). But recently I have wanted to begin reading feminist and riot grrrl zines as well. A zine is a self-published work of minority interest usually reproduced by photocopier. Most zines are produced in editions of less than 100, and profit is not the primary intent of publication. If you are well-read on the riot grrrl movement of the 90's, you are probably aware that it encouraged an explosion of explicit and confrontational zines about women in music and the media, feminism, and gender issues.

The truth is that there are still plenty of girls continuing to make those types of zines today. I find that really awesome because most people think that with the growth of the internet zines became obsolete, but it's cool to see that they still have a decent underground following. Nowadays if someone has something they want to say and others to hear they can just make their own website or blog about it (shit, that's what we did!), but zines have a real sense of dedication and creativity that a webpage can't compete with.

I know for me, when I first decided to start to read zines, I had no idea where to find the kinds I was interested in. I knew there were girls out there making them, but I didn't know where to look to actually find and purchase them. So in case some of you are interested but are going through the same thing, I'm going to use this post to promote and link you guys to a few feminist/riot grrrl zines that I have recently checked out and am totally excited to buy and read as soon as I can (I know they are all super cheap, but give me a break here, I'm currently jobless and beyond broke!). I've talked to a few of these girls online before, and I must say they are some amazing and intelligent women, so I know their zines will not disappoint.
The last lady I linked to, Clementine Cannibal, is looking for submissions for her compilation zine of writings by grrrls called "I knew a motherfucker like you and she said...". You can read all about this zine and what kinds of writings she is looking for here. If you feel inspired and have something to say, you definitely should participate and send a piece her way. I'm pretty sure I'm going to myself, which I have to get started on. All submissions should be sent to: lickingstarsoffceilings@hotmail.com

If you write your own feminist/riot grrrl zine, or just read some awesome ones, please tell us about them and where we can purchase them in the comments!

April 20, 2010

What I'm listening to- Mika Miko

I have a terrible habit of finding out about bands right before they break up. It sucks, because then I usually never get the chance to see them perform live. This holds true with the band I'm going to write about now- Mika Miko.

Back in December, I was talking to someone online about women in punk music, when they mentioned to me the band Mika Miko. Obviously at that time I never heard of them, so I decided to look them up and listen to some of their songs. After doing so, I instantly fell in love with them and bought a few of their records. It didn't take long for Mika Miko to become one of my favorite bands. I kept checking their tour dates section of their MySpace to see if they were going to play any shows in or around the NJ area, I was so pumped to see this band perform live because of the videos I saw of their live shows on Youtube. They seemed to have such amazing, fun, high-energy shows. But instead of making my wishes come true and announcing a show in the NJ area, they announced that they were breaking up. I was pissed. January 1st turned out to be their last show, at The Smell in Los Angele's, CA. 

So who is Mika Miko? Mika Miko was a punk/noise band from Los Angele's, CA, that formed in 2003. They started out as an all-girl band with Jennifer Clavin on vocals, Jenna Thornhill also on vocals, Michelle Suarez on guitar, Jessica Clavin on bass, and last but not least; Kate Hall on drums. But then a few years into being a band the drummer, Kate Hall, left and was replaced by the then only guy in the band; Seth Densham. After forming, it didn't take long for this band to gain a large local following. They were known for their intense live shows, and their 'call and response' style of vocals (when two vocalists sing phrases back and forth). 

Their sound was reminiscent of classic 1977 punk. They remind me of a mix between The Germs and 90's riot grrrl band The Frumpies. Don't get me wrong, I love girl punk bands that have cute lyrics and overall sound (I mean hello, my first 'what I'm listening to' post was on The Coathangers) but I also really appreciate girl punk bands that can play just as hard as their male counterparts- and that's Mika Miko. These ladies are bad-ass, and they play some catchy shit! The fact that they are now broken up and no longer a band is besides the point, they still deserve a listen if you haven't heard them already. 

They have a handful of 7" and full-length albums, some of which you can buy here.

April 12, 2010

Enough pixelated boobs! (Sexism in video games)

It's pretty common knowledge that the world of video games is a very male-dominated one. I'm into video games myself, but I'm far from being an "extreme gamer". I'd rather pick up a fun and cute Nintendo game then anything overly violent and serious on Playstation or XBox. Harvest Moon, Super Mario Bros., Sonic- those are my kinds of games. But when you step away from the innocent area of gaming and jump into the more serious side of it, you are bound to see some sexism.

I'll start off by saying that when it comes to the design of characters in video games, I think there is sexism to be found with both genders. The majority of male characters in video games are designed overly masculine with huge muscles, while the majority of female characters in video games are designed overly feminine with huge...well...boobs. But the sexism is quite obviously worse for the female characters. Female characters in video games are constantly sexualized and objectified. They are usually shown as damsels in distress who need the big strong male main characters to come and save them (I'm looking at you, Princess Peach), or if on the off chance the main character in the video game is a woman kicking ass, you better believe she will have to look overly-sexualized while doing it (hello, Lara Croft)! I'm talking barely-there clothing with big double-D pixelated breasts bouncing up and down, of course.

But the scary part is that the objectification and sexualization of women in video games isn't even the worst of it. It's the rape and violence against women in video games that really scares me. In Grand Theft Auto you can go to a local strip club, pay for a lap dance, have sex with the stripper, and then kill her after your done with her! Awesome (please note the sarcasm). And then there are rape video games which are surprisingly and sickeningly very popular online and actually have a cult following. One of the most well-known rape video games is RapeLay, which was released in Japan back in 2006, but just recently got a lot of media attention. I have a hard time even writing about this video game because it grosses me out and pisses me off so much. Here's the description of the game off of Wikipedia:

"The player can choose from a variety of sexual positions, and controls the action by making movements with the mouse or by scrolling the mouse wheel. It features a realistic sexual simulator which allows the player to grope and undress the characters on a crowded train. Later, the player may have forced intercourse with all three women at his leisure."

And that's not even the worst parts of the description of the game, if you'd like to read it all you can do so here. Now let me make it clear to everyone that I don't believe that just because you may play a video game with killing or raping in it you are automatically going to want to go out and do those things in the real world, not at all. But I do feel that if you continuously play video games with those themes in them you can possibly become desensitized to it. And that scares me, because for the most part people are aware that murder is wrong, but for some reason many people still don't see rape as wrong or as serious of a crime as it is.

And what makes RapeLay and other games like it worse then the typical shooting games to me is the context. Sure in Halo you shoot and kill people, but that's not the main purpose of the game, there is a whole storyline and objective behind it. But with games like RapeLay, raping women and young girls is the sole purpose of the game. And it's a realistic sexual simulator, so you're not just raping these women, but you're pretty much torturing them in detail- extra points for you if they cry or scream! Disgusting. I'm not a fan of censorship, so I personally don't believe that this game being available is the problem and that censoring it would then be the solution. I think that the problem lies with people wanting to play it, because if there wasn't anybody wanting to play it, then these kinds of games wouldn't continue to be made.

But don't fear female feminist gamers, on the brighter side, there are also a handful of video games that feature awesome intelligent and strong female characters lacking any sexism. For example- Jade from Beyond Good & Evil, Alyx Vance from Half-Life 2, and Samus Aran from Metroid, just to name a few.