A Softer World xkcd parody

Seen something interesting in the news or on the intertubes? Discuss it here.

Moderators: Zamfir, Hawknc, Moderators General, Prelates

User avatar
protocoach
Posts: 251
Joined: Thu Feb 14, 2008 6:44 am UTC
Location: Omaha, NE
Contact:

Re: A Softer World xkcd parody

Postby protocoach » Tue Aug 12, 2008 11:11 pm UTC

baker's kilobyte wrote:
protocoach wrote:
Quixotess wrote:...
Which is problematic because of course women don't do awesome things in order to make themselves attractive to men any more than men do. ...
...


The bolded sentence is where I lose track of your argument here. Why is it problematic for guys to be attracted to that behavior, whether or not it's done purposefully to attract? When a person sees anyone doing something that they find interesting, they're usually attracted. If the observer is straight and the observee is of the same gender, this attraction will be expressed through friendship; if they're of opposing genders, it will be expressed through friendship and possibly sexual attraction. Where is the problem?


The problem is not with being attracted to someone because they share the same interests as you, but with the outlook that a female doing anything technical is automatically impressive, just by virtue of her female-ness. Saying, "Whoa, she's hot!" when what you mean is, "Whoa! She's a girl! And she codes! Wow, I can't believe I found a girl that writes code!" is not flattering, and really rather condescending.

It's not by virtue of her membership in the XX community, it's because being a female who's also heavily interested in technology and other geeky stuff runs very much against the grain. This is not to say that there are not women who do just that, but in addition to being impressive because they have technical knowledge, they are also impressive because they do their own thing.

That second sentence I don't even understand. It's wrong to be attracted to someone for skills they possess in addition to the way they look? How is it condescension to be attracted by rare talents?

Jack Saladin wrote:The point is: If a dude who codes is normal, yet a girl who codes is totally fucking rad, then obviously you have lower expectations of females compared to males. What you expect a 'normal' female to be is inferior to your expectation from a male.

Inferior, or just different? They aren't always the same thing, and in this case I feel it's much more the latter, and at least some of the feeling is from the relative rarity of the sight - women are severely underrepresented in computer sciences.

Besides, I'd say that a woman who codes deserves some accolades...the prevailing culture seems pretty biased against women in that way. Why shouldn't there be some extra recognition for someone who goes their own way and fights the societal push to go with the flow?

Quixotess wrote:
protocoach wrote:The bolded sentence is where I lose track of your argument here. Why is it problematic for guys to be attracted to that behavior, whether or not it's done purposefully to attract? When a person sees anyone doing something that they find interesting, they're usually attracted. If the observer is straight and the observee is of the same gender, this attraction will be expressed through friendship; if they're of opposing genders, it will be expressed through friendship and possibly sexual attraction. Where is the problem?

Because it's not generally shown the other way around, with a man doing something clever and nerdy with the main result being a woman saying "wow, hott."

So...what's the argument here? Women are not attracted to guys who possess different or rare talents? Are we taking the position that we should only judge attractiveness by physical appearance?
If I were a Viking god, I don't think I would fall for that.
But if I were a Viking, that's exactly what I would do.

How can you study geometry and not believe in a God?
A God of perfect points and planes,
Surrounded by arch-angels and right angles

User avatar
Hawknc
Oompa Loompa of SCIENCE!
Posts: 6986
Joined: Mon Oct 02, 2006 5:14 am UTC
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Contact:

Re: A Softer World xkcd parody

Postby Hawknc » Wed Aug 13, 2008 12:06 am UTC

"Parody" is just a word that other people use for you guys, isn't it?

User avatar
Sebeka2
Posts: 317
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 9:09 pm UTC

Re: A Softer World xkcd parody

Postby Sebeka2 » Wed Aug 13, 2008 12:15 am UTC

Quixotess wrote:Because it's not generally shown the other way around, with a man doing something clever and nerdy with the main result being a woman saying "wow, hott."

It should be. I find it very attractive when someone I'm into takes a clever-geek approach to stuff unexpectedly.
Willpower lasts about two weeks and is soluble in alcohol. ~ Mark Twain(?)

User avatar
protocoach
Posts: 251
Joined: Thu Feb 14, 2008 6:44 am UTC
Location: Omaha, NE
Contact:

Re: A Softer World xkcd parody

Postby protocoach » Wed Aug 13, 2008 12:29 am UTC

Hawknc wrote:"Parody" is just a word that other people use for you guys, isn't it?

No, we understand it's a parody. We have this weird idea that it is possible look at comedy (or literature, or film, or art) on...wait for it, wait for it, this is revolutionary...multiple levels. Holy shit, I just blew my mind.
If I were a Viking god, I don't think I would fall for that.
But if I were a Viking, that's exactly what I would do.

How can you study geometry and not believe in a God?
A God of perfect points and planes,
Surrounded by arch-angels and right angles

baker's kilobyte
Posts: 56
Joined: Mon Aug 04, 2008 4:03 am UTC

Re: A Softer World xkcd parody

Postby baker's kilobyte » Wed Aug 13, 2008 12:47 am UTC

Nono, I think you misunderstood what I was saying, protocoach.

A lot of people (though not all!) do treat women who do the same techy-geeky stuff as men differently--for no reason other than that they are women. That's the "problem" I was pointing out. Not that it's wrong to be attracted to such women, but that it's not right to act like the only reason they're special is that they are females who can do this stuff.

As for the second sentence: By "hot" I wasn't implying physical attractiveness; I was refering to stuff I've heard men say (in many places, not just here) about techie women being "hot". Sometimes I question whether these guys are actually interested in said women, or are just surprised that a woman could be geeky, and think that telling her she's "hot/awesome/rad/etc." will be more appropriate than saying, "How the hell did a girl learn to do that?"

I hope this was more clear. :D

User avatar
protocoach
Posts: 251
Joined: Thu Feb 14, 2008 6:44 am UTC
Location: Omaha, NE
Contact:

Re: A Softer World xkcd parody

Postby protocoach » Wed Aug 13, 2008 1:07 am UTC

baker's kilobyte wrote:Nono, I think you misunderstood what I was saying, protocoach.

A lot of people (though not all!) do treat women who do the same techy-geeky stuff as men differently--for no reason other than that they are women. That's the "problem" I was pointing out. Not that it's wrong to be attracted to such women, but that it's not right to act like the only reason they're special is that they are females who can do this stuff.

As for the second sentence: By "hot" I wasn't implying physical attractiveness; I was refering to stuff I've heard men say (in many places, not just here) about techie women being "hot". Sometimes I question whether these guys are actually interested in said women, or are just surprised that a woman could be geeky, and think that telling her she's "hot/awesome/rad/etc." will be more appropriate than saying, "How the hell did a girl learn to do that?"

I hope this was more clear. :D

But the fact that they're women who are making their way in a heavily male-dominated job is special, at least to my mind. It's like a woman who makes it to the upper levels of business, law, or politics - obviously, they have substantial skills; everyone in the room does, but they had to fight so much more to get to that position that there's an extra element of admiration. My mom's an example of that; she's one of the top lawyers in the area and she got there by essentially being the best at what she does by a factor of five or so. She had to be better than the guys around her to get into college, then to get into law school, and then finally to get positions at local firms, and she's succeeded at each of those levels. Women in computer sciences face similar barriers, and it's therefore, at least to my mind, more impressive to see female coders than it is to see male coders. It's not the only reason they're impressive - anyone who can code is impressive to me, I can't make heads or tails of CS myself - but the fact that they had to work harder to get to the same position means they're likely more talented than a lot of the guys at the same level.

As for the second concern, I see where you're coming from, but I think the "hot/awesome/rad" line has a lot more honesty to it than you're giving it credit for. There is, at least to guys who are more technically inclined, a definite attraction toward women who display the same or similar traits. Some (stupid, arrogant) people might be using it as a PC version of "Girls shouldn't be doing that!" but for a lot more it's the visceral reaction to seeing something they enjoy and they've probably gotten made fun of for enjoying being enjoyed by a member of the opposite sex.

EDIT: Just another thought: I think we're coming at this from an idealized view versus a slightly more pragmatic view. In an ideal world, the gender of a programmer wouldn't matter. It'd be irrelevant. That's what we should strive for. But in the world we live in, the gender of programmers (and other technical professions) still matters; women still face bias in a lot of technical fields, and I don't think that'll correct itself without an effort in the other direction - encouraging women to consider the hard sciences, fighting the bias in society against women in technical positions, and, importantly to this discussion, highlighting and celebrating women who are currently excelling in those fields, both for their excellence and their ability to overcome some of the current inherent biases against them.
If I were a Viking god, I don't think I would fall for that.
But if I were a Viking, that's exactly what I would do.

How can you study geometry and not believe in a God?
A God of perfect points and planes,
Surrounded by arch-angels and right angles

baker's kilobyte
Posts: 56
Joined: Mon Aug 04, 2008 4:03 am UTC

Re: A Softer World xkcd parody

Postby baker's kilobyte » Wed Aug 13, 2008 2:38 am UTC

Hmm. I needed some time to think about your post, and about what exactly it is that I'm trying to say. I hope my response isn't too incomprehensible.

Yes, I agree that women who fight hard deserve respect and admiration for the struggles they go through. I'm not saying that they shouldn't be recognized or that they don't receive this recognition. But where my concern--and, frankly, frustration--lies is in the way some men go on and on about it. I had a CS prof who loved getting into the "Why aren't there more women in CS?" debate and invariably would answer his own question with, "Because men are such arses! Men make life so difficult for women! Us men should stop being so mean to the poor, helpless, fragile little women!" In his defense, I don't think he knew how annoying he sounded, but yeah. That's part of why I get a little miffed when men make a big deal about women doing this or that thing, and I start to wonder whether they mean it or are just being...bleh.

But, if you say you guys really find that stuff attractive, then I believe you. :)

I guess I just don't see how re-routing planes to spell one's name out could make a man love a woman. I mean, yes, guys might find that fascinating, the way I would find a guy who crochets fascinating. (This is just an example! If a male crocheter is reading this, please don't take offense.) But, I wouldn't throw myself at his feet and ask him to marry me because he was a man "going against the grain". It's the over-reaction, both as illustrated in this comic and in real life, that I'm talking about. Except, in the comic it's clever, whereas IRL it's... not so fun.

User avatar
Quixotess
No. Cookies.
Posts: 3243
Joined: Mon May 28, 2007 7:26 am UTC
Contact:

Re: A Softer World xkcd parody

Postby Quixotess » Wed Aug 13, 2008 2:43 am UTC

protocoach wrote:EDIT: Just another thought: I think we're coming at this from an idealized view versus a slightly more pragmatic view. In an ideal world, the gender of a programmer wouldn't matter. It'd be irrelevant. That's what we should strive for. But in the world we live in, the gender of programmers (and other technical professions) still matters; women still face bias in a lot of technical fields, and I don't think that'll correct itself without an effort in the other direction - encouraging women to consider the hard sciences, fighting the bias in society against women in technical positions, and, importantly to this discussion, highlighting and celebrating women who are currently excelling in those fields, both for their excellence and their ability to overcome some of the current inherent biases against them.

That's not it either.

It's that the man's reaction is used to validate the woman's interests, in a way that it isn't when the men do similarly geeky things.

Of course gender matters and women have a hard time in the sciences and have to work harder to get less recognition etc etc. And the women who do brave that field deserve extra props for it. But in xkcd, those props tend to come in the form of a male's romantic attraction. Do you see why this is problematic?
Raise up the torch and light the way.

User avatar
TiPerihelion
Posts: 106
Joined: Tue Aug 12, 2008 5:29 pm UTC
Location: Colorado

Re: A Softer World xkcd parody

Postby TiPerihelion » Wed Aug 13, 2008 2:47 am UTC

Quixotess wrote:
TiPerihelion wrote:In short, xkcd isn't sexist - on the contrary, it's quite feminist. (I'm a girl, so I *know*.)

Heeeheeheehee. Go on, tell me another.


Yeah, that was supposed to be sarcasm...hopefully it came through.

Quixotess wrote:The problem with xkcd as pointed out by ASW is not that it's really unexpected that women do awesome things. It's that when men do awesome things, the thing tends to be "you did something awesome." When women do awesome things, it tends to be "you did something awesome and that's hot."


Do you really think that's the prevalent attitude of xkcd, or is it rather our response to it - or society's at large? The theme of xkcd, as I take it, is the appreciation of a kindred spirit. We readers might be going, 'Wow, she's hot,' or, 'I wish I could meet a girl like that,' but I don't think that's the attitude of the characters. And I believe it's their attitude which is key to deciding whether the comic is sexist or not.

Quixotess wrote:Which is problematic because of course women don't do awesome things in order to make themselves attractive to men any more than men do. (Note I left room in that statement for some of this behavior by both genders. But it's only ever commented on in one direction.) It's a male gaze issue.


But I don't think that's right. Women do go out of their way to attract men. And men go out of their way to attract women. It's natural. We don't have to regard it as demeaning and pretend it doesn't happen. True, in xkcd we see the male characters pine for various girls, though we rarely, if ever, see the reverse. But I don't find this oppressively one-sided. Yes, the comic's slant is from a male perspective, and in that, it is not lacking for company in our literary and cultural history. But the male perspective is not inherently sexist. No one in the comics assumes that the female characters are doing awesome things to attract male attention. So we needn't read that into it.

User avatar
Freakish
Posts: 909
Joined: Tue Dec 18, 2007 1:47 am UTC
Location: Northern Ontario, Canada
Contact:

Re: A Softer World xkcd parody

Postby Freakish » Wed Aug 13, 2008 3:14 am UTC

I can't speak for the rest of the world, but if I share an interest with a girl, it adds points to how attracted I am to her. It works the other way also. For every interest she has that I don't, it subtracts points to how attracted I am to her. Maybe interests isn't the right word. The majority of similarities I could have with a women are a plus.

I'd be more attracted to a girl with insomnia, that plays video games, can fix a computer, assemble things from IKEA.
Freakish Inc. We completely understand the public’s concern about futuristic robots feeding on the human population

User avatar
protocoach
Posts: 251
Joined: Thu Feb 14, 2008 6:44 am UTC
Location: Omaha, NE
Contact:

Re: A Softer World xkcd parody

Postby protocoach » Wed Aug 13, 2008 3:16 am UTC

baker's kilobyte wrote:Hmm. I needed some time to think about your post, and about what exactly it is that I'm trying to say. I hope my response isn't too incomprehensible.

Yes, I agree that women who fight hard deserve respect and admiration for the struggles they go through. I'm not saying that they shouldn't be recognized or that they don't receive this recognition. But where my concern--and, frankly, frustration--lies is in the way some men go on and on about it. I had a CS prof who loved getting into the "Why aren't there more women in CS?" debate and invariably would answer his own question with, "Because men are such arses! Men make life so difficult for women! Us men should stop being so mean to the poor, helpless, fragile little women!" In his defense, I don't think he knew how annoying he sounded, but yeah. That's part of why I get a little miffed when men make a big deal about women doing this or that thing, and I start to wonder whether they mean it or are just being...bleh.

But, if you say you guys really find that stuff attractive, then I believe you. :)

I guess I just don't see how re-routing planes to spell one's name out could make a man love a woman. I mean, yes, guys might find that fascinating, the way I would find a guy who crochets fascinating. (This is just an example! If a male crocheter is reading this, please don't take offense.) But, I wouldn't throw myself at his feet and ask him to marry me because he was a man "going against the grain". It's the over-reaction, both as illustrated in this comic and in real life, that I'm talking about. Except, in the comic it's clever, whereas IRL it's... not so fun.

Ok. It's not incomprehensible at all, it's actually fairly illuminating. It would get quite irritating to hear over and over again that the other side is so powerful that the only way to even things out is for them to stop, and that it's impossible for your side to win without their help. As for the attractiveness...the parody comic overstates it, but I think XKCD gets it right most of the time - just having technical skills won't make guys fall in love with you, but it's one more thing that gets counted on the plus side. Plus it slots neatly into the "Would we still have something to talk about when we're older?" category, and you can never have enough things in that category.

Quixotess wrote:
protocoach wrote:EDIT: Just another thought: I think we're coming at this from an idealized view versus a slightly more pragmatic view. In an ideal world, the gender of a programmer wouldn't matter. It'd be irrelevant. That's what we should strive for. But in the world we live in, the gender of programmers (and other technical professions) still matters; women still face bias in a lot of technical fields, and I don't think that'll correct itself without an effort in the other direction - encouraging women to consider the hard sciences, fighting the bias in society against women in technical positions, and, importantly to this discussion, highlighting and celebrating women who are currently excelling in those fields, both for their excellence and their ability to overcome some of the current inherent biases against them.

That's not it either.

It's that the man's reaction is used to validate the woman's interests, in a way that it isn't when the men do similarly geeky things.

Of course gender matters and women have a hard time in the sciences and have to work harder to get less recognition etc etc. And the women who do brave that field deserve extra props for it. But in xkcd, those props tend to come in the form of a male's romantic attraction. Do you see why this is problematic?

Absolutely. Validation through someone else's love isn't what people should be looking for. That said, I don't think it's wrong to like someone more because they have special abilities, it just shouldn't be the primary thing.

I think we essentially agree on this, we're just hashing out details and wording.

Damnation, I was partially ninjaed. And not even particularly quickly.
If I were a Viking god, I don't think I would fall for that.
But if I were a Viking, that's exactly what I would do.

How can you study geometry and not believe in a God?
A God of perfect points and planes,
Surrounded by arch-angels and right angles

Random832
Posts: 2525
Joined: Wed Oct 10, 2007 4:38 pm UTC

Re: A Softer World xkcd parody

Postby Random832 » Wed Aug 13, 2008 4:00 am UTC

Quixotess wrote:But in xkcd, those props tend to come in the form of a male's romantic attraction.


[citation still needed]

User avatar
protocoach
Posts: 251
Joined: Thu Feb 14, 2008 6:44 am UTC
Location: Omaha, NE
Contact:

Re: A Softer World xkcd parody

Postby protocoach » Wed Aug 13, 2008 4:38 am UTC

Random832 wrote:
Quixotess wrote:But in xkcd, those props tend to come in the form of a male's romantic attraction.


[citation still needed]

Didn't Jack say he was going to hand you a banhammer slap for one more [citation needed] post?

That said, I'm pretty sure the ones they're thinking of would probably be:

http://xkcd.com/150/
http://xkcd.com/201/
http://xkcd.com/289/

and possibly

http://xkcd.com/308/
If I were a Viking god, I don't think I would fall for that.
But if I were a Viking, that's exactly what I would do.

How can you study geometry and not believe in a God?
A God of perfect points and planes,
Surrounded by arch-angels and right angles

Random832
Posts: 2525
Joined: Wed Oct 10, 2007 4:38 pm UTC

Re: A Softer World xkcd parody

Postby Random832 » Wed Aug 13, 2008 4:51 am UTC

protocoach wrote:
Random832 wrote:
Quixotess wrote:But in xkcd, those props tend to come in the form of a male's romantic attraction.


[citation still needed]

Didn't Jack say he was going to hand you a banhammer slap for one more [citation needed] post?


I don't remember that. I don't do it more often than other people, either - it's only twice in this thread because it was rudely dismissed the first time with an explanation that had nothing to do with xkcd.

I don't think any of your three examples really fit the pattern since the "awesome thing" is really more of an idea than an actual technical accomplishment.



There we don't see the man's reaction at all.

User avatar
4=5
Posts: 2073
Joined: Sat Apr 28, 2007 3:02 am UTC

Re: A Softer World xkcd parody

Postby 4=5 » Wed Aug 13, 2008 7:04 am UTC

this comic didn't ring true for me,
my reactions would be respectively, AWSOME! explain to me how you did it. and AWSOME! explain to me how you did it and I'd start seeing if she was interested in me.

Now on to personal experience. (I'm a guy)
I crochet, this should be roughly comparable to how programming is viewed to be distributed among the sexes (also it uses the same skills). When a girl see a cupcake I've crocheted their reaction is identical to boys' reactions (admiration, wishing for the same talent, asking if I can teach them) with the occasional addition of "will you make me one? with batted eyelashes (I think this is testing the waters to see how much I value them).

Since my hypothetical behavior is equitable and it matches how I've seen girls act in the same situation, I am lead to believe that this comic did not hit on any great truth or important message about my life.

User avatar
Belial
A terrible sound heard from a distance
Posts: 30450
Joined: Sat Apr 15, 2006 4:04 am UTC
Contact:

Re: A Softer World xkcd parody

Postby Belial » Wed Aug 13, 2008 1:52 pm UTC

protocoach wrote:So...what's the argument here? Women are not attracted to guys who possess different or rare talents? Are we taking the position that we should only judge attractiveness by physical appearance?


We're not talking about the real world, we're talking about a piece of art. The actual responses of actual women and actual men to actual behaviour in the actual world are only tangentially relevant to what's being argued.

Keep that in mind.

Random832 wrote:
protocoach wrote:
Random832 wrote:[citation still needed]

Didn't Jack say he was going to hand you a banhammer slap for one more [citation needed] post?

I don't remember that.


Jack Saladin wrote:Random: If you keep posting all these content-free "citation needed" posts everywhere, you'll just be banned from N&A. OK? OK.
addams wrote:A drunk neighbor is better than a sober Belial.


They/them

baker's kilobyte
Posts: 56
Joined: Mon Aug 04, 2008 4:03 am UTC

Re: A Softer World xkcd parody

Postby baker's kilobyte » Wed Aug 13, 2008 2:12 pm UTC

Belial wrote:We're not talking about the real world, we're talking about a piece of art. The actual responses of actual women and actual men to actual behaviour in the actual world are only tangentially relevant to what's being argued.


A work of art that's making an observation about real life. To what extent that observation is valid in light of the actual behaviour of men and women is what the discussion is about.

User avatar
Belial
A terrible sound heard from a distance
Posts: 30450
Joined: Sat Apr 15, 2006 4:04 am UTC
Contact:

Re: A Softer World xkcd parody

Postby Belial » Wed Aug 13, 2008 2:15 pm UTC

Right. But Quixotess was talking about the comic's treatment of the behaviour of women and men, and protocoach was responding *as though* she were talking about the actual behaviour of women and men.

Just trying to get everyone on vaguely the same page before this becomes a true clusterfuck.
addams wrote:A drunk neighbor is better than a sober Belial.


They/them

baker's kilobyte
Posts: 56
Joined: Mon Aug 04, 2008 4:03 am UTC

Re: A Softer World xkcd parody

Postby baker's kilobyte » Wed Aug 13, 2008 2:23 pm UTC

Ehhh, yeah I re-read the posts and was in the process of editing mine before you posted... ^-^;;

User avatar
Belial
A terrible sound heard from a distance
Posts: 30450
Joined: Sat Apr 15, 2006 4:04 am UTC
Contact:

Re: A Softer World xkcd parody

Postby Belial » Wed Aug 13, 2008 2:23 pm UTC

It's all good.
addams wrote:A drunk neighbor is better than a sober Belial.


They/them

User avatar
TiPerihelion
Posts: 106
Joined: Tue Aug 12, 2008 5:29 pm UTC
Location: Colorado

Re: A Softer World xkcd parody

Postby TiPerihelion » Wed Aug 13, 2008 6:23 pm UTC

protocoach wrote:That said, I'm pretty sure the ones they're thinking of would probably be:

http://xkcd.com/150/
http://xkcd.com/201/
http://xkcd.com/289/
and possibly
http://xkcd.com/308/


First of all, I think Random832 had good reason to request citation (i.e. relevant comics), and I don't understand why he was threatened with banishment.

Secondly, I can say that as I've been posting in this thread, "150" and "308" were two of the comics I immediately thought of. But, like Random832, I dismissed them because they really don't fit the parameters we've set down. None of them involve the female character displaying a technically difficult or male-dominated talent (unless you count scaling a building, which is irrelevant). Take "150" for example: is this a case of infatuation based on sexist, lowered expectations? No! No one expects somebody to fill their apartment with playpen balls. Every one of these examples displays nothing more than a romantic interest based on a common sense of fun and interest. It is finding someone so closely attuned to oneself that raises the intensity of the infatuation.

If the argument is that the guy should have reacted the same way to a male friend who filled his apartment with playpen balls...well, I think we've derailed from the argument at that point.

User avatar
Sour Apple
Posts: 231
Joined: Tue Feb 26, 2008 12:17 am UTC
Location: USA
Contact:

Re: A Softer World xkcd parody

Postby Sour Apple » Wed Aug 13, 2008 6:48 pm UTC

I'm just going to throw in this link without getting involved...

It's a Cyanide and Happiness parody of xkcd.
Who I am. [Apparently this isn't obvious: I'm a chick, a bird, a female of your species.]

User avatar
TiPerihelion
Posts: 106
Joined: Tue Aug 12, 2008 5:29 pm UTC
Location: Colorado

Re: A Softer World xkcd parody

Postby TiPerihelion » Wed Aug 13, 2008 7:13 pm UTC

Wow, that's not even vaguely like xkcd - beyond the "Sometimes when I..." narration style. That character isn't even a real classhole - he's just an asshole. Fail.

baker's kilobyte
Posts: 56
Joined: Mon Aug 04, 2008 4:03 am UTC

Re: A Softer World xkcd parody

Postby baker's kilobyte » Wed Aug 13, 2008 7:19 pm UTC

Hehe. Maybe they were going for the "It's so bad, it's good" effect. :P

User avatar
Quixotess
No. Cookies.
Posts: 3243
Joined: Mon May 28, 2007 7:26 am UTC
Contact:

Re: A Softer World xkcd parody

Postby Quixotess » Wed Aug 13, 2008 8:23 pm UTC

I think the male-dominated-ness of the activity in question is actually not very relevant. It's more of a:

man does something neat --> it is neat
woman does something neat --> it is hot

in general.

This is probably a consequence of the larger fact that characters in xkcd default to male, and women tend to be brought in when romance is involved. The major exceptions to this would be Elaine Roberts and the Choices woman, but Black Hat Girl was no help at all. See, Black Hat Guy has a well-established character independent of romance. He's allowed to be awesome just for the sake of being awesome. Then the storyline decides he should have a relationship, and brings in the woman. Her awesomeness is defined as a counterpoint to his, and serves the purpose of making her an acceptable romantic match for him.

(Also, the gang's all here, in't it? Kind of bizarre doing this in a new thread.)
Raise up the torch and light the way.

Princess Marzipan
Posts: 7717
Joined: Sun May 27, 2007 5:28 am UTC
Location: neither a road, nor an island

Re: A Softer World xkcd parody

Postby Princess Marzipan » Wed Aug 13, 2008 8:37 pm UTC

Quixotess wrote:This is probably a consequence of the larger fact that characters in xkcd default to male, and women tend to be brought in when romance is involved. The major exceptions to this would be Elaine Roberts and the Choices woman, but Black Hat Girl was no help at all. See, Black Hat Guy has a well-established character independent of romance. He's allowed to be awesome just for the sake of being awesome. Then the storyline decides he should have a relationship, and brings in the woman. Her awesomeness is defined as a counterpoint to his, and serves the purpose of making her an acceptable romantic match for him.


Or it's showing that you Black Hat Guy's penis has nothing to do with his cunning or genius, as the Black Hat Girl pretty much utterly defeats him. If a xkcd were authored by a girl, things could very well be the opposite. It's authored by a guy, so many of the comics are from a male point of view, but I have a very hard time noting any sexism in the comic.

Girls involved in comic, with no romance:

http://xkcd.com/460/
http://xkcd.com/456/
http://xkcd.com/454/
http://xkcd.com/451/
http://xkcd.com/440/
http://xkcd.com/435/

Girls involved in comic, with romance:

http://xkcd.com/449/ Oh look, the male is a total douchebag in this one.
http://xkcd.com/441/ Both having the same geek reaction.
http://xkcd.com/439/ Guy is again a total douchebag.

I could go on.
"It's Saturday night. I've got no date, a two-liter of Shasta, and my all-Rush mixtape. Let's rock!"
"I am just about to be brilliant!"
General_Norris, on feminism, wrote:If you lose your six Pokémon, you lost.

User avatar
Okita
Staying Alive
Posts: 3071
Joined: Fri Aug 10, 2007 7:51 pm UTC
Location: Finance land.

Re: A Softer World xkcd parody

Postby Okita » Wed Aug 13, 2008 8:44 pm UTC

I wonder how Elaine Roberts and Mrs. Roberts fits into all this.

Heehee, Little Bobby Tables. That always cracks me up.
"I may or may not be a raptor. There is no way of knowing until entering a box that I happen to be in and then letting me sunder the delicious human flesh from your body in reptile fury."

User avatar
Belial
A terrible sound heard from a distance
Posts: 30450
Joined: Sat Apr 15, 2006 4:04 am UTC
Contact:

Re: A Softer World xkcd parody

Postby Belial » Wed Aug 13, 2008 8:50 pm UTC

Nougat:

Consider that the possibilities for portrayals of males and females are not limited to: x>y or x<y*. Therefore the fact that a man was being a douchebag does not mean that the woman in the situation is not being portrayed in a subtly sexist manner. Nor does the fact that the woman is portrayed as capable. It simply means the work isn't as sexist as it could be.

The presence of a flaw does not invalidate the entire work, any more than the presence of a merit exonerates it, and Quixotess has already said that the comic is, by and large, extremely good in this regard, but that doesn't mean it doesn't still have some flaws.

I like Randy (and from what I understand, so does Joey Comeau) but I'm not going to pretend he's perfect. None of us are.

I'm not weighing in on this particular problem, because I'm not sure where I stand on it. I'm just pointing out that all the "evidence" you've presented misses the point entirely, because you appear to be arguing with a position that exists largely in your head.

*for the most blunt, hamhanded example of this, consider: even if we imagine a society in which both sets of duties are considered equally "valuable", it is still sexist to say "men should make war, work for a living, and provide money for the family, while women should stay home, take care of children, cook, and clean" even though it doesn't place one group as "better than" the other.
addams wrote:A drunk neighbor is better than a sober Belial.


They/them

Princess Marzipan
Posts: 7717
Joined: Sun May 27, 2007 5:28 am UTC
Location: neither a road, nor an island

Re: A Softer World xkcd parody

Postby Princess Marzipan » Wed Aug 13, 2008 9:00 pm UTC

The women there are all just...doing things. Those things are not inherently female and are not, to me, viewable as such.

I'm only saying if there is any bias at all, it's because Randy's personal experience tends to be in the area of being a male geek.
"It's Saturday night. I've got no date, a two-liter of Shasta, and my all-Rush mixtape. Let's rock!"
"I am just about to be brilliant!"
General_Norris, on feminism, wrote:If you lose your six Pokémon, you lost.

User avatar
Quixotess
No. Cookies.
Posts: 3243
Joined: Mon May 28, 2007 7:26 am UTC
Contact:

Re: A Softer World xkcd parody

Postby Quixotess » Wed Aug 13, 2008 9:09 pm UTC

*snicker*

And that would negate the presence of bias how, exactly?

Anyway, I was hoping to get through this discussion without making a stupidly long post deconstructing a bunch of comics in a row, but looks like not. Hang tight for a bit.
Raise up the torch and light the way.

Princess Marzipan
Posts: 7717
Joined: Sun May 27, 2007 5:28 am UTC
Location: neither a road, nor an island

Re: A Softer World xkcd parody

Postby Princess Marzipan » Wed Aug 13, 2008 9:11 pm UTC

Quixotess wrote:And that would negate the presence of bias how, exactly?


Depends on whether you're using the connotation or the denotation of "bias."
"It's Saturday night. I've got no date, a two-liter of Shasta, and my all-Rush mixtape. Let's rock!"
"I am just about to be brilliant!"
General_Norris, on feminism, wrote:If you lose your six Pokémon, you lost.

User avatar
Will
There are about a million things I can do from behind
Posts: 2256
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2007 11:12 pm UTC
Location: St. Heraldwulf's Stone
Contact:

Re: A Softer World xkcd parody

Postby Will » Wed Aug 13, 2008 9:19 pm UTC

No, it's definitely a bias. It's just that it's a bias that *everyone* has: everyone has their own gender and sexual preferences. I'm not capable of treating men and women the same because I'm attracted to women and not men. Does that make me sexist?
Meaux_Pas: Is it fucking Taint Sunday or something?
liza: Screw y'all, I'm going to the moon

User avatar
Quixotess
No. Cookies.
Posts: 3243
Joined: Mon May 28, 2007 7:26 am UTC
Contact:

Re: A Softer World xkcd parody

Postby Quixotess » Wed Aug 13, 2008 9:38 pm UTC

Sweet jesus on a moped.
Raise up the torch and light the way.

User avatar
(╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻
As the Arbiter of Everything, Everything Sucks
Posts: 8314
Joined: Mon Jun 18, 2007 6:17 pm UTC
Location: I FUCKING MOVED TO THE WOODS

Re: A Softer World xkcd parody

Postby (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻ » Wed Aug 13, 2008 10:22 pm UTC

Will wrote:No, it's definitely a bias. It's just that it's a bias that *everyone* has: everyone has their own gender and sexual preferences. I'm not capable of treating men and women the same because I'm attracted to women and not men. Does that make me sexist?

I'm a have to kinda go with Will on this one.
Quixotess wrote:The problem with xkcd as pointed out by ASW is not that it's really unexpected that women do awesome things. It's that when men do awesome things, the thing tends to be "you did something awesome." When women do awesome things, it tends to be "you did something awesome and that's hot." Which is problematic because of course women don't do awesome things in order to make themselves attractive to men any more than men do.

I think your original premise is off. It's not that women are not expected to do awesome things. It's that Nerd Guys want women who do the same awesome things they do.
Jack Saladin wrote:The point is: If a dude who codes is normal, yet a girl who codes is totally fucking rad, then obviously you have lower expectations of females compared to males. What you expect a 'normal' female to be is inferior to your expectation from a male.


Or, you're only sexually and romantically attracted to girls. That's where the extra awesome comes in. XKCD: Not sexist, just hetero. At least, that's the impression that I get.
Quixotess wrote:
protocoach wrote:The bolded sentence is where I lose track of your argument here. Why is it problematic for guys to be attracted to that behavior, whether or not it's done purposefully to attract? When a person sees anyone doing something that they find interesting, they're usually attracted. If the observer is straight and the observee is of the same gender, this attraction will be expressed through friendship; if they're of opposing genders, it will be expressed through friendship and possibly sexual attraction. Where is the problem?

Because it's not generally shown the other way around, with a man doing something clever and nerdy with the main result being a woman saying "wow, hott."

You're right, usually there isn't such a comic- but that is because the dominant paradigm is that girls don't do a lot of nerdy things. It's just a fact of society that up until fairly recently women were not expected to be things like engineers, and it's still different enough that it's interesting. Like when you meet a great guy and he cooks you a gourmet meal in a clean kitchen, and you find yourself saying, "oh wow, this is awesome and attractive" not because men can't cook or clean... just that historically, they've been trained by wives and mothers to not have to. For the record, this is also kind of unfortunate, why and people like Gmalivuk dislike being given accolades for non-sexist behavior.
Also XKCD doesn't present that kind of a premise often, because Randy is a dude. He often writes from his own point of view, which is limited to the one gender and sexual preference. Much as we might like him to be, he cannot be all things to all people all the time.
Heyyy baby wanna kill all humans?

User avatar
GhostWolfe
Broken wings and scattered feathers
Posts: 3892
Joined: Fri May 11, 2007 11:56 am UTC
Location: Brisbane, Aust
Contact:

Re: A Softer World xkcd parody

Postby GhostWolfe » Wed Aug 13, 2008 10:47 pm UTC

Will wrote:No, it's definitely a bias. It's just that it's a bias that *everyone* has: everyone has their own gender and sexual preferences. I'm not capable of treating men and women the same because I'm attracted to women and not men. Does that make me sexist?
Ninja'd by Will. I'm not going to find a trait sexually attractive in someone I'm not sexually attracted to.

/angell
Linguistic Anarchist
Hawknc: ANGELL IS SERIOUS BUSINESS :-[
lesliesage: Animals dunked in crude oil: sad. Animals dunked in boiling oil: tasty.
Belial: I was in your mom's room all night committing to a series of extended military actions.

User avatar
Quixotess
No. Cookies.
Posts: 3243
Joined: Mon May 28, 2007 7:26 am UTC
Contact:

Re: A Softer World xkcd parody

Postby Quixotess » Wed Aug 13, 2008 11:42 pm UTC

Okay. Random asked for citations. Here are citations.

Comics from 250-400 that feature only men, or feature women only as scenery:
250. 251, 252, 255, 258, 259, 261, 262, 272, 274, 277, 278, 282, 284, 285, 287, 288, 291, 292, 293, 294, 295, 296, 297, 298, 300, 301, 306, 315, 317, 319, 320, 323, 326, 329, 330, 332, 334, 336, 337, 339, 346, 347, 351, 353, 354, 356, 357 (maybe), 359, 360, 361, 362, 363, 365, 368, 369, 371, 376, 379, 380, 381, 382, 392 (and is sort of horrifying), 393, 398, 399

Comics from 250-400 that feature women in romantic contexts, or only as they are important to the romantic exploits of the man, or talking solely about the sexuality/romancing of men:
260, 271, 275, 276, 279, 280, 283, 289, 302, 303, 304, 307, 310, 316, 328, 333, 335, 338, 340, 348, 352, 355, 364, 372, 400

Comics from 250-400 that feature women in non-romantic or ambiguous contexts: (Note that these comics almost all have men as well as women.)
254, 263, 264-268 (Choices series, already mentioned), 269, 270 (a damn good run here), 281, 286, 305, 308 (maybe), 309, 311, 318 (maybe), 321, 324, 325, 327, 331 (but note the alt-text), 341-345 (the 1337 series, already mentioned), 349, 350, 358 (maybe), 366, 367, 372, 378, 383, 385, 389, 390 (maybe), 395, 396, 397,

Comics from 250-400 that feature no people at all:
253, 256, 257, 273, 290, 312, 313, 366, 373, 384, 388, 392, 394

260 brings in a woman in the context of a romantic relationship. It's true that all the man's travails here were done for the woman, but the comic follows him for the entire duration; the comic is about him. We don't even really see the woman's reaction--she's a passive receptacle here. 279 does the exact same thing. 310 does something similar.

289 is a woman doing neat mathy things in a way that earns her male approval.

297 has a woman in it, and in what is not necessarily a romantic relationship with the man in the comic, but I would call her scenery. She just sort of stands there silently and says nothing, and is gone in the next panel. She's a receptacle for the man's thoughts and feelings. It reminded me of Droceiomimus in Dinosaur Comics.

299 might be an exception, I can't decide. Ditto 314 and 386, 387

304 is particularly egregious through this lens and illustrates perfectly the principle of a woman doing something geeky and this bringing her into importance as long as it interests a man.

307 ruined (through this lens) by the alt text. Woman expresses displeasure in a geeky way, this is attractive to a man, therefore her displeasure is irrelevant.

It's probably best not to get me started on 322.

340 features a woman using her geek prowess to take revenge on her boyfriend, which is a different spin on "women's geekiness is important only in romantic contexts/only as it affects men" and is also told from the male POV.

374, 377 are part of the Journal series which I already talked about.

Okay, stopped listing them all at 400, but there are still a couple of specific comics I should bring your attention to.

403 features a woman doing something geeky which has the main effect of sexytimes. 415 is vengeful ex, which I believe Randy actually made an apology for on Hoyden About Town. 439 again has a woman whose geekiness has the main effect of attracting male attention. 457 is just a problem on a stick.

Okay, so I actually think this problem has improved throughout the run of xkcd. And again, the treatment of women is overall positive. But it features mostly men, and the women that it includes are disproportionately shown in the context of romance or sex, and female geekery is shown as mostly important as it affects men, to an extent that is leagues away from the treatment of male geekery. That's what I saw the parody as pointing out, and I think it's absolutely spot-on.

Is it justified by the fact that the comic is drawn by a guy? Meh, not really. It would be awfully easy to draw some hair on a lot of the characters in comics I put in the first category. And I think that the comic is starting to do that to some extent, which is nice. But saying "He's a guy, how is he supposed to see women in any other context than sexual?" which appears to be y'all's assertion, is not true, and actually goes far beyond the comic's failings. Randy shows an awareness of this fact in the third category above.

*whew*
Raise up the torch and light the way.

User avatar
(╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻
As the Arbiter of Everything, Everything Sucks
Posts: 8314
Joined: Mon Jun 18, 2007 6:17 pm UTC
Location: I FUCKING MOVED TO THE WOODS

Re: A Softer World xkcd parody

Postby (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻ » Thu Aug 14, 2008 12:21 am UTC

Quixotess wrote:But saying "He's a guy, how is he supposed to see women in any other context than sexual?" which appears to be y'all's assertion, is not true, and actually goes far beyond the comic's failings.


*facepalm* that's actually not what we're saying at all.

260 brings in a woman in the context of a romantic relationship. It's true that all the man's travails here were done for the woman, but the comic follows him for the entire duration; the comic is about him. We don't even really see the woman's reaction--she's a passive receptacle here. 279 does the exact same thing. 310 does something similar.

297 has a woman in it, and in what is not necessarily a romantic relationship with the man in the comic, but I would call her scenery. She just sort of stands there silently and says nothing, and is gone in the next panel. She's a receptacle for the man's thoughts and feelings. It reminded me of Droceiomimus in Dinosaur Comic

1. When you read a book about a man, and he has a love interest that is female, or a female supporting character, does that make it a sexist book? No? Well that's what you've just done here. And I find your use of the term 'receptacle' kind of offensive. She's a supporting character.
289 is a woman doing neat mathy things in a way that earns her male approval.

No, it's about finding someone who understands you, from a male mathy nerd point of view.
304 is particularly egregious through this lens and illustrates perfectly the principle of a woman doing something geeky and this bringing her into importance as long as it interests a man.

I could have sworn it was about making assumptions about people you didn't know. He is interacting with her as a love interest, and finds that her particular tastes aren't the same as his.
This isn't about how important the woman is- it's about a friggin shifted paradigm.
307 ruined (through this lens) by the alt text. Woman expresses displeasure in a geeky way, this is attractive to a man, therefore her displeasure is irrelevant.

FOR GOD'S SAKE THIS IS ABOUT STAR WARS FANS AND NERDS WHO QUOTE TOO MUCH. She just mind choked that guy, and yet ironically she'd have learned that he found her attractive for her abilities, if she'd let him live. It is one of many jokes at the expense of nerds who idolize women that are also nerds. More on that below.
It's probably best not to get me started on 322.

I'm thinking it would have been best if you'd never started at all.
340 features a woman using her geek prowess to take revenge on her boyfriend, which is a different spin on "women's geekiness is important only in romantic contexts/only as it affects men" and is also told from the male POV.

...you're still serious, aren't you?
This particular woman's geekiness is important because this COMIC IS ABOUT GEEKS. Geeks can understand an argument that involves re-writing a boot sector. There's one man and one woman because it's a heterosexual relationship. Please see comment #1, which I have numbered and written in blue, for your convenience.

Okay, so I actually think this problem has improved throughout the run of xkcd. And again, the treatment of women is overall positive. But it features mostly men, and the women that it includes are disproportionately shown in the context of romance or sex, and female geekery is shown as mostly important as it affects men, to an extent that is leagues away from the treatment of male geekery. That's what I saw the parody as pointing out, and I think it's absolutely spot-on.

Is it justified by the fact that the comic is drawn by a guy? Meh, not really. It would be awfully easy to draw some hair on a lot of the characters in comics I put in the first category.


The comic is mostly featuring men because a man writes it. Good writers write what they know. Women are shown in the context most often of romance or sex, because that's one of the things XKCD is about- ROMANCE. Female geekery is often shown as something that male geeks idolize, because they do. That's not something Randy did, that's the state of the world. 322 deals with his frustration(and that of most normal men) at the reaction to women on the internet. This is a nerd society problem, and if anything XKCD is working to reduce it, through EMPs if necessary.
The parody was pointing that out, and it did a damn good job of it. But I think you're reading a lot into all of these comics that just was not intended to be there. A crowd of stick figures in which one of three has long hair is not really sexist, it's just background. If I were to go stand in my kitchen right now, I'd be the one with boobs and long hair standing there while Nougat and his other male friends play Magic: The Gathering. Does that make my kitchen a male-dominated society? Not really, it just means that me and the other chick in the house don't really play Magic. Honestly, Quix, you've gone a bit overboard here. Not everything that involves both men and women has to be biased against females just because there are fewer of them.
Heyyy baby wanna kill all humans?

extraneous cargo
Posts: 1
Joined: Thu Aug 14, 2008 3:19 am UTC

Re: A Softer World xkcd parody

Postby extraneous cargo » Thu Aug 14, 2008 3:56 am UTC

When a man does something neatly geekish: "Huh, cool."
When a woman does the same thing: "Oh my God you are the most perfect woman ever. I don't know if I want to marry you or be you!"

Certainly lowered expectations are a part of the difference in black hat's reaction, but the other side of that is a heightened appreciation/over-valuing of female geekiness and an under-valuing of male geekiness. When a woman does something geeky, it entitles her to far more esteem and respect and admiration than a male's efforts would merit, and not simply in a romantic context (black hat doesn't say "wow, i wish i was you" or express much non-romantic excitement or admiration). Is that unfair to women? Sure, why not? But it's certainly an unfair paradigm for men, also.

That aside, though, I think that the blag on electric skateboards http://blag.xkcd.com/page/2/ actually informs this discussion quite well. There we see two male (presumably, based on hair rules for stick gender) figures, both with unusual and neat science-y projects immediately leap at each other. From this I can take either:

1) Someone you're sexually oriented towards impresses you more when they do something awesome, especially if it's something esoteric that you're into.
2) There's a level of awesome/identification that transcends orientation, at least for comedic purposes.

Link allowed, as it is to the blag.

User avatar
4=5
Posts: 2073
Joined: Sat Apr 28, 2007 3:02 am UTC

Re: A Softer World xkcd parody

Postby 4=5 » Thu Aug 14, 2008 4:20 am UTC

extraneous cargo wrote:When a man does something neatly geekish: "Huh, cool."

This is the part of the comic that doesn't hold up to my experiences.

User avatar
TiPerihelion
Posts: 106
Joined: Tue Aug 12, 2008 5:29 pm UTC
Location: Colorado

Re: A Softer World xkcd parody

Postby TiPerihelion » Thu Aug 14, 2008 7:11 pm UTC

I couldn't agree more with Meaux Pas, and I'm just glad that someone went through the whole refutation so I don't have to. But I'd like to reiterate the main points just for posterity:

1. Not every comic featuring solely male characters can be sexist. That's ridiculous.

2. Not every comic featuring a male and female character can be sexist. That's absurd.

3. The key to the "sexism" question lies both in the characters' interactions and the subject of the comic. Example: 297. Quixotess has accused the female as being merely a receptacle for the man, i.e. the comic is sexist. But we can see perfectly well that this moment is just a snippet from a real conversation that propels the guy into a fantasy. We have no reason to assume the girl isn't going to respond half a second later. And there's no reason for us to see her respond - that's not what the comic is about. We cannot read sexism into the fact that the guy got to speak and the girl didn't.

4.
Quixotess wrote:But saying "He's a guy, how is he supposed to see women in any other context than sexual?" which appears to be y'all's assertion, is not true.


That isn't the assertion anyone has tried to make. We are saying: The comic is from a male POV. That's the slant, the angle. "Calvin and Hobbes" is from Calvin's POV. It would be dumb to say, "C&H is ageist, because it almost always features children, and only brings adults in to torture and torment the children." Likewise, in xkcd, the events are interpreted from a male perspective. It's not supposed to give equal panel time to women, or show what's going on inside their heads. That's just not the conceptual framework. But that's not sexism! It is not sexist to pick a male POV and tell things from that POV.

5. Given 1-4, if there are yet more objections, we shall have to examine our definition of "sexism," because it's obviously not the same in both cases.


Return to “News & Articles”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: addams and 36 guests