Another Extremely Accurate Librarian Costume.

This is the second sexy librarian costume I’ve found. One more and it’s officially a trend.

This one is especially flattering. They call it a “Sexy Secretary” SLASH “Sexy Librarian” costume. Because as you know, the two jobs are interchangeable. Or at least the outfits seem to be.

I love love LOVE that librarians are the subjects of our very own fetish. My mom would be so proud. We should form a labor union, all us sexy librarians, nurses, secretaries, and flight attendants, and charge a licensing fee every time someone wants to objectify us. Like the MPAA for disenfranchised traditionally-female professions. Quick, somebody call Dan Savage!

We do look all like this though. Seriously. Even the dudes.

I will shoot you with my Barbie Gun

Ladies and Gentlemen: I’m coming out. As a gamer.

I game. I play video games. I enjoy shooting digital things. I have the ability to navigate three-dimensional space. There, I said it.
I don’t know what I was afraid of. I’m not going to be stereotyped. As far as I can tell there are no stereotypes of female gamers. It’s not like admitting “Hey you guys I love to shop” or “Gosh I love me some Jesus.” There are no social assumptions about being a female gamer because up to a few years ago, female gamers didn’t statistically exist.

These days however, I’m in good company. New generations of tech-savvy women are reshaping the game industry. According to the charmingly titled 2004 ELSPA report Chicks and Joysticks, female gamers make up 39% of US gamers. We’re only at 25.1% across Western Europe, but in Japan we rule a whopping 65.9%. Plus, in the US, women buy 53% of all PC games. We love The Sims. We love World of Warcraft. We can whoop you at Dance Dance Revolution. Female gamers exist, and we’re starting to eat up market share.

So what’s the problem? Nothing we haven’t handled before. The success of first-person shooters has left the market flooded with Uber-violent 3D games that don’t appeal to women (Well – women who aren’t me. Battlefront, anyone?) And, of course, decades of male-dominated gaming have left a legacy of seriously sexist game characters. Big-boobed wasp-waisted mistresses of the martial arts still grace the covers of RPG manuals and fighting games. I’ve included a few here for your amusement.

In a great article titled Why is my girl repellent chasing off all the hot chicks? Mythago describes the lament of the clueless male gamer: “Why aren’t there more female gamers, especially when we go to such lengths to make it clear they aren’t welcome?” He claims that the abundance of porn ladies gracing video and RPGs sends a simple message to potential girl gamers: “You don’t exist. We only think of females as sex toys.”

This whole rant got started because I just attended a nifty lecture here on campus by Michigan State Communications prof John Sherry called “Sex Differences in Video Game Play: What the Industry Doesn’t Know About Why Girls Don’t Play First-Person Shooters”. MSU is doing some cool cognitive psychology-type research on the relationship between game preference and cognitive abilities. It made me nostalgic for East Lansing, Midwestern accents, and Social Science research with its delightful openness to interpretation. It’s pretty damn difficult to say why most women seem to prefer one type of game over another, but I had a good time listening to the theories.

To finish off, and perhaps cleanse your eyeballs from all those huge electronic breasts, why not have a go at the fully girl-created online game Sissyfight 2000 which lets you become a bitchy schoolgirl fighting on the playground. Scratch, tease, and gang up on other girls, then try and look innocent. Then shoot them with your huge My Little Pony gun.

Maysan Haydar is Cool

My friend Maysan Haydar has always been cool. She introduced me to Bratmobile and Swing dancing back when such things were hip. She got a tongue ring before everyone else. She was the first person I knew to dye her hair purple.

She escaped from Flint, majored in Linguistics and moved to NYC to write for The Nation. Now she’s a social worker. Oh. And she wears the hijab. Here’s an excerpt from an article she wrote for the book Body Outlaws about why she wears the veil, and what it’s been like.

The decorating thing…

Hi there – I’m on vacation. woo. Owl’s passed out next to me in a big long bundle of fur. Thanks for all of the great holiday decorating comments. You guys are hilarious and ever-so-various. I just wanted to follow up, because I think a few folks got the wrong impression about where I stand on this crucial topic. That whole rant? The previous post? About the cookies and the survey and the tinsel? That wasn’t me saying that guys don’t decorate or should decorate more. That would be dumb.

What I’m saying is that asking a woman you don’t know about her holiday decorations is a Gendered Question. This is a Gendered Question because Society (not me! society!) has associated women, fairly or unfairly, with homemaking stuff. This is also a Gendered Question because it is almost exclusively asked about women (and by women).

I, personally, don’t really like being asked Gendered Questions because I would rather be associated with the things I actually care about and value like PlayStation and my Large Cat. Not that any stranger is going to realistically come up to me and ask about any of the weird shit I enjoy. Still, I can dream of a world where people greet each other with a hearty “Have you read Seamus Heaney’s new translation of Antigone?” Or thump each other on the back with a cheerful “Ever considered opening up your 802-11 G wireless network?” I can dream my little holiday dreams.

So good for all y’all decorators and non-decorators alike. Good for all you lads who make with the tinsel, and you dudes who snooze through the whole month of December. Rock on my friends, I wish you a happy break.

Have you decorated your home for the holidays? A patriarchal plot to make me hang ornaments instead of conquering the galaxy

Recently several people have asked me something that strikes fear into my cold and icy heart. The question is innocuous. The question is well-intended. The question makes me want to pull out my big librarian rubber stamp and do some smiting.

The question:
“Have you decorated your home for the holidays?”

No, this isn’t a war-on-Christmas screed, nor is it a rant against bland conversation.* This is about feminism. Specifically, this is about a brand of feminism I subscribe to, the kind of feminism that thinks being a woman really doesn’t require me to do extra crap around the house.

I’ve got nothing against decorating for the holidays. I’ve got nothing against talking about decorating for the holidays. I’ve got nothing against the holidays.** What I don’t like is that the lads seem to be exempt.

I have the good fortune to work in I.T., which means my co-workers are mostly male.*** I took an informal survey of these guys to see how they responded to this particular social pressure. Donning my best “we’re all girls together” face (you know the one) I sidled up and asked innocently “Have you decorated your home for the holidays”

The result? Derisive snorts, awkward this-chick-has-gone-nuts pauses, glassy stares, and one guy actually did a spit-take. Finally one gentleman described his holiday decorations. His wife, it seemed, had done a great job this year.

Fine, maybe it’s the nesting hormones. Maybe women really do love to decorate. Maybe we’re all a bunch of scented-candle-chugging tinsel-hangers. But still, I get all gitchy when somebody just assumes I subscribe to this apparently gender-specific hobby. I mean, hell. I’ve got some garlands and shit, but I don’t enjoy feeling like it’s my venereal duty to start shooting holiday cookies out my oven just because every other woman on the earth seems to be.

I would love to sum it all up for you and present a nice, clear solution to all this damned gender inequity, but I can’t think of one. Just, maybe, the next time you ask someone about their hobbies, try to stay away from the race, gender, and sexual orientation-related ones. Don’t ask the gay man if he enjoys flower arrangement Just Because He’s Gay. He might love flowers but that still doesn’t make it cool. Don’t ask the black woman if she likes collard greens Just Because She’s Black. She may love them (how could you not?), but that doesn’t make you less of an asshole. And dangit, don’t ask me about my dang holiday decorations. Ask me about my Star Wars Battlefront score. I conquered the galaxy yesterday.

*Sure, the world needs conversational crutches. But lately, the holiday decoration thing seems to be as important to office social lubrication as “what are your vacation plans?” and “can you believe how cold it is?” Hopefully, it will never be as important as “here, have another drink.”
**I’ve even got nothing against Martha Stewart. Hell, I dumpster-dive Living from the Borders’ recycling bin regularly.***The inequities of this are so obvious they don’t need to be stated right? Right?

Escape from Flint

Last night I drove back to Ithaca from my hometown of Flint, MI. I had Great Expectations on tape, and Dickens’ verbosity helped get me through the nine-hour drive without plowing into someone out of sheer boredom. Flint was unexpectedly fun. I got to see my favorite old gang, and their cute new kids. Downtown’s been sexed up a bit, with some lighted arches and a cobblestone overhaul. The best thing downtown is Flint City T-Shirts, my friend Matt’s new shop. I got an “I heart MI” shirt, and Erin got one that says “Flint: Baddest town around since 1855.”

Things I missed while I was in Flint (Good)

  • Snoop Dogg asking Cornellians “Can U Control Yo Hoe?” (more on misogyny in hip hop)
  • Slope day snowfences
  • Cat barfing

Things I missed while I was in Flint (Bad)

  • Beezoo and Lexie delivering brownies at work
  • Tulips blooming in spite of the damn deer (curse you deer!)
  • International dance festival (opa!)

Things I did while in Flint

  • Ate assloads of coneys. Pretty much literally.
  • Went to Wal-mart twice with parents. Bought nothing. Washed off corporate slime afterward.
  • Gave driving tour of expensive public works projects that were going to “save Flint”
  • Tamale night at Erin’s grandma’s
  • Mourned the death of Angelo’s. The walls are bare. They have wheat toast. The waitress called my friend “sir.” It’s over.
  • Three-hour gossip session with everyone’s favorite Joel
  • Got asked out by skeevy Australian waiter while at Olive garden with mom.
  • Introduced parents to veggi burger. Ate chicken in exchange.

In other news, Wendy at Poundy describes the Seattle Public Library most aptly.
Store Wars should tip you over your monthly bandwidth quota nicely. Headphones required. Organic and work-safe.

Planned Parenthood bar crawl

I joined the Planned Parenthood drinking team last night, and attended their first ever pro-choice pub crawl.

Highlights included sliding condoms down the bar and engaging large construction workers on the topic of reproductive rights. Much fun was had by all, including the drunken gentlemen who thought we were rushing a sorority with our matching pink t-shirts. Alpha Gamma Roe, man.

For all you librarians out there, wow, what a way to raise the visibility of your infomation services. Why not start Librarian bar crawls throughout this land? I can see it now, schnockered crowds of library workers handing out community health and information flyers in our nation’s drinking establishments. Wear something funny, matching and visible, get a drink at the bar, say something really loud like “Librarians need liquor!” and just start talking to folks.

Social conservatives may use churches to spread their hardline social agendas, but more people go to bars, baby. Let’s take our librarianship to the streets. Let’s put information about Black History Month, HTML workshops, book clubs, and storyhour in the hands of The People.

Plus, beer!

Shoes

So now that I live in New York, my habit of wearing all black in the summer has a certain cachet. In other states, however, there are apparently things called “summer clothes” which are pastel in hue and employ an efficient use of fabric. I discovered this while at a party in Austin, where my black mules became an object of some amusement. “It must still be cold in Michigan,” a helpful Texan proclaimed, “since you still have your winter shoes on.”

Up until that point, I had only been familiar with three categories of shoes: Cute, Hiking, and Work.

Now, apparently, there was some mysterious fourth category, a shoe only used for two months out of the year. A summer shoe. A quick survey revealed that every woman at the party besides me was wearing rubber thongs on her feet. Yes, those things that people wear in the shower when visiting locker rooms or suspicious motels. Fortunately, I work in a library where extreme office temperatures and the wearing of cardigans is expected, and the issue of summer shoes has not reared its head.

That, by the way, was my summer shoe story which I promise never to tell again because I have officially worn it out. Some stories are so easy to pull out in certain situations that they get overused, tired and worn. Others never wear out, and their telling becomes a sort of ceremonial chant. The shoe story ends here.

In other news, my department is running a workshop this week, and as a result I spent a small part of my day sorting tea into different colors and arranging it in rows.

It was a weirdly library-like thing to do, all of this sorting and arranging, and although I know that tea is often presented this way, I still felt the urge to affix little catalog numbers to each row of tea.

If this is a symptom of someone who needs a vacation you may rest easy. I’ll be in Pennsylvania all next week.