Monday, October 29, 2012

Women can do maths thank you very much

So, this article:

talks a bit about the assumption that women are crap at maths. I’m astounded that people think this. I have never, ever had the idea that women can’t do maths. I don’t think this idea has ever been expressed to me. I had a friend who took her GCSE maths at age 14 (normally you do this at at age 16) and got As for it (the top grade). She then went on to do AS level maths at age 16 (you normally fo this at age 18) then you did a maths degree at university.

She wasn’t the only one who did these exams early either. There were between 6 and 8 girls in my school who did these exams early.

From age 13 to 18 I went to an all girls school. An all girls grammar school. After reading the above article I am suddenly, and for the first time in my life, grateful for the opportunties that school gave me. I now realise, that because we were all girls we weren’t subject to the idea that women can’t do science, or maths, or any of those ‘hard’ intelligent subjects. I hated my school, I hated the environment, I didn’t like how it was run and I was depressed. But at the very least I was in an environment where I was able to learn with other people at the same level as me, and I wasn’t taught that women can’t do maths. That’s an amazing thing.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The weekly comics review

I'm going to start it up again.  I think.  I must admit I'm a bit disillusioned by DC's recent output.  The new 52 has been a big disappointment.  There's too much to say about why this is at this point, so I'll start the reviews and elaborate as I go.

Spoilers ahead for:
Justice League 13, Superboy 13, Supergirl 13, Birds of Prey 13, Green Lantern Corps 13, Wonder Woman 13, Swamp Thing 13, Ultimate Spider-Man 16, Angel and Faith 14,  Justice League Dark 13, Teen Titans 13.
Justice League 13
I am utterly disappointed in this title.  The first issue was fabulous.  Really good fun.  Energetic.  Exciting.  Cocky.  Brilliant.  The rest of the arc that #1 kickstarted was fun, but not as memorable as #1.  Now it's turned into utter rot.  I'm not even referring to the Wonder Woman/Superman romance.  As much as that is not to my taste it could still be a good story, if told well.  Unfortunately the dialogue and plotting is boring and the art is awful.  Where the art matches the characters and the plot, it's dull and by the numbers.  Where it's meant to be romantic it looks stilted and awkward.  The anatomy is sometimes bad and there is too much emphasis on showing Diana's arse and her sexiness.  The colouring, inking and the movement lines are nice.  But overall the art detracts from the story.

I was keeping this on my pull list because I enjoyed the Captain Marvel backup.  It frustrates me that we have lost the old innocent Batson family, but if I forget about them I did like the new Marvel.  However in this issue it is gone and replaced by On the Outs which looks like a link in to the Justice League America title, and is also utterly boring.  It doesn't help that Amanda Waller is now a skinny little thing.

Rubbish. I've now dropped this title. 

Superboy 13
Egads, all I can see on the cover is a pair of enormous metal boobs.  This is not a good start.  I'm also thinking about dropping this title.  The art is lovely, but I'm not invested in the characters.  It turns out that this Superboy just isn't doing it for me.

Supergirl 13
The art in this series has been absolutely gorgeous.  Unfortunately regular artist mahmud Asrar did not do thsi issue and the guest artist Sam Basri just cannot make Kara's skirtless/trouserless costume look right.  It's fine until you get to the bottom of the leotard and then it just looks stupid.

I have been enjoying this series but it doesn't really feel like Supergirl to me yet.  Kara should be more innocent, she should be happier, she should be trusting of her cousin.  I know that her reactions to date have been more realistic given her new history, but this still feels a little like someone else in the Supergirl costume.  Nevertheless I shall keep buying it and hope I get more attached later.

Birds of Prey 13
Another disappointment.  It started off so well.  Starling is great, so is Black Canary.  Katana I can take or leave (I have always been that way) and I really enjoyed Poison Ivy's inclusion.  The Batgirl came on the scene and my enthusiasm level dropped.  Then Ivy left in the most obvious-standard-ex-villain-betrays-the-team-storyline possible, and now I'm ceasing to care.  Black Canary no longer seems to have that essential goodness or mothering instinct to her character.  Add to that some occasionally exploitative art, Black Canary losing her legacy identity and the Penguin giving Dinah her superhero name, and I'm really narked.

Another one to possibly cancel.  3 out of 4 so far.  We're not doing too well are we?

Green Lantern Corps 13
This I just picked up off the shelf because it looked fun, and it actually caught my interest.  Guy has been promoted to Lantern Sentinel and then jeopardises it because of some ugly alien threat.  the Guardians appear to have let a super criminal out of his cage.  I enjoyed this but I don't think I'll necessarily be picking up the next issue.  We'll see.  I'm far more interested in what the Guardians are up to than I am in Guy's new job.  It was pretty obvious that he'd wreck it as soon as he'd been given it.

Wonder Woman 13
I love the depictions of the Gods in this.  It's my favourite thing about the new 52.  Diana is portrayed as a lot tougher than previous incarnations, which is a viewpoint I can get behind.  OK, so I find Zeus being Di's father dull and the Amazon's as man haters obnoxious, but the rest of the series is well executed.  It could do with a little more pizazz, but this one is a keeper.

Swamp Thing 13
Bought this one as it's a crossover with Animal Man, which I have been loving.  Unfortunately as a one off issue it's crap.  Well maybe it's not.  Maybe crossover issues are just not to my taste.  I prefer series that run by themselves, referencing the rest of the DCU but with little direct input.  A few pages of art are lush, but overall the inking is a little too heavy handed for my tastes:

Ultimate Spider-Man 16
I have been LOVING this series.  It is quite serious so if you prefer your comics lighter in tone, you should get hold of the Spider-men mini series.

Issue 16 is smack bang in the middle of the United We Stand crossover.  It starts off strongly with Miles deciding he should join the Avengers and assist the country in the throes of civil war.  Because Miles is 13 years old, Captain America says no way.  Then the military stronghold where they are gets attacked, and Miles helps out, and so the Cap'n changes his mind and lets Miles join the Avengers.  Rrrriggghhhttt. I sense editorial insisting that a Spider-mask is part of this event.  And then on the final page we find out the Captain is now President of America.

Sigh.  This is stupid.  The sooner this is out of the way and we can go back to Miles everyday life the better.

Angel and Faith 14
This was really good and made me regret selling my Buffy season 8 comics.  I may continue to pick this up on an ad hoc basis.

Justice League Dark 13
I've picked up the last 3 issues of this on an ad hoc basis and have really liked it.  I miss Zee's old costume and the pre 52 Black Orchid I was familiar with, but I do like the tone and plotting of this series.  This may get put onto a standing order.  Maybe.

Teen Titans 13
This is on my pull list.  It is a surprise success as the solicits looked awful, but it's actually great fun.  Ale Garza does the pencils, and I think I preferred his work from a few years ago, particularly the Supergirl issue he did.  This panel is particularly distasteful:

Cassie's new armour reminds me of Genocide.  But this issue shows us that her armour is linked to Trigon.  I'd really like to find out how Cass is linked to Wonder Woman now.  If at all.  I am not at all interested in Trigon.  But, the comic remains fun and the interplay between characters make sit worth the cover price.

On the plus side, while researching Genocide I found this handy wiki of Wonder Woman villains.

And that's my feeling on the last 2 weeks comics.  Not very optimistic is it?

It feels good to be doing reviews again :)

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Hunger Games vs Twilight

This might be a bit rambly. It's 10pm and I've JUST finished The Hunger Games (first book, no spoilers for books 2 and 3 please).

In my mind it is linked with Twiligth because they are both very popular young adult books, with female protagonists, loved by teenage women.

That's about all they have in common though.

Now, I really really enjoyed Twilight.  I don't think it's anti-women, I don't think it's anti-feminist.  Yet a few chapters into The Hunger Games I couldn't help but comment that Katniss is far better role model than Bella will ever be.

But that's missing the point of Twilight.  Bella isn't meant to be a role model.  She's a cipher.  She doesn't need distinguishing characteristics because the story is not really about her - it's about Edward and his Amazingness.  And it's about Edward  and his Amazingness because it's a romance fantasy.  A teenage romance story.  For readers to identify with Bella they just need to know that she feels as swallowed up by love as they do.  Of course, it's not real love that Bella feels, it's heady infatuation, extended.  Obsessive world conquering infatuation.  It's hormone fulled teenage lust and it's very different to what you feel when you've been in a relationship for several years.  We all know that.  But teenagers don't - they think what they are experiencing is what everyone else feels.  They don't understand how love grows, develops, simmers down and matures.  I'm not criticising teens for this.  It's just how life is.  Teens haven't been alive long enough to experience changes in love that long term relationships experience.

But to denigrate Twilight for not being grown up and for Bella for being wet is to miss the point.  It is not really a book about adventure, the vampire/supernatural thing is just the window dressing.  Bella shouldn't be too developed as a character because then she will alienate too many readers.  Twilight's readers need to identify with her raging hormone lust and her love for Edward, but that's all they need in common.  In that way the focus is on Edward - he also becomes a cipher for the person that Twilight fans adore.  the vampire/werewolf stuff is window dressing to make it more exciting.  To give this obsessive love a framework in which to operate, to have a story.  The details of Edward's and Bella's personalities really aren't that important.  Which is why they aren't role models.  They are ciphers.

They are a bit like teenybopper boy bands (does anyone even use the word teenybopper anymore?  Am I showing my age?).  When I was a teenager (many moons ago..) the girls in my year idolised Take That.  before Take That it was new Kids on the Block.  The guys in the band were ciphers.  Symbols.  One dimensional products that hormonal teenage women (possibly some hormonal teenage men too) could project their ideas and fantasies onto - they could become the perfect boyfriend in their fans heads.  I guess maybe One Direction (?) fulfil that niche now.  Twilight is the fiction equivalent of Take That but with better window dressing.

This isn't a problem.

Whereas Katniss is a hero.  She's someone we are meant to look up to, to emulate.  And as that she's a fab hero.  She's clever, resourceful, fiercely loyal and protective.  The Hunger Games is a proper adventure story and Katniss is a fully developed character.  We suffer alongside her, we understand her family, her background, we grow and develop with her.  She faces very real challenges.

She's a million miles away from Bella, because they are written with very different purposes.  For a different type of story and to fulfil a different type of goal.

There's nowt wrong with that.

Now if you'll excuse me I've got book 2 of The Hunger Games to start reading, and a Twilight film marathon to arrange.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Super Silly Sunday

Interesting to see that Diana's figure is nothing like the ham mannequin.

I immediately thought of this:

Wonder Woman scan found on Escher Girls.  GL scan from my archives, not sure which issue.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Women in politics

Responses to the Australian PM, included in the following linked article, calling out misogyny in her Parliament have led me to conclude that it’s ok for men to play the gender card, but not women.

Fuck that.

Friday, October 05, 2012

Article on booth babes from

Go read it here.

Firstly, I will say that I cannot understand how people defend booth babes.  The whole idea is sexist.  It's just wrong.

Secondly, the article (specifically about booth babes at the Eurogamer expo) puts it much better than I (emphasis mine):
"What does the concept of the Booth Babe say about women? It says that women's place at any tech-related event can only be as an attractive decoration to sweeten the event for the men. It says that women aren't truly welcome in that world, because the moment you objectify something it isn't part of anything. It's just there. It's just something else to be consumed. Fundamentally, it depicts a woman as a product.
What does the concept of the Booth Babe say about men? It says that we objectify women to such an extent that we will think nothing of attractive women just "being there" while we watch.  It says that we are exactly what a corporate entity believes us to be. It makes us a predictable, easily defined and easily manipulated stick-man on a company whiteboard. It cheapens us. It cheapens all of us. It cheapens the event, and everyone at it, male or female."

Well said.  The article also compares booth babes with the Page 3 Girl in the UK's Sun newspaper, and refers to the no more page 3 campaign (which I urge all of you to sign. please).

And then Rauper, the Managing Director of Eurogamer network responded. I shall quote the most relevant part (emphasis is again mine):

"At this year’s show three companies showed up with booth babes. Two in particular we thought were dressed inappropriately. As a short term measure we told them to move into the 18+ zone, and we asked some of them to put on leggings as well.

Although it was only a small number of booth babes, our regret is that we didn’t go further on the first day and just say “this isn’t right” and ask them to change their clothes - or not attend. Instead, with the huge pressures of putting on such a large show and everything that comes with it, we let it go. And that’s what has prompted this debate – and we’re sorry it happened.

For future shows we will be issuing formal guidelines: Booth babes are Not OK."

Wow.  That is an honest, heartfelt apology.  It's also the first comment on the piece.  Well done Eurogamer.

Apologies like that almost never happen.  I am impressed.